The Archbishop of Dublin has criticized Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan for his so-called Jewish joke which has sparked a storm of protest.

Speaking at mass on Tuesday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said Tiernan's Sept 5. rant, when he described Jews as "F---ing Christ-killing bastards," was "offensive to all who feel revulsion concerning the Holocaust."

Archbishop Martin said Tiernan's comments, at the Electric Picnic festival in County Laois, helped trivialize the Holocaust, which "can be as hurtful as denial."

The Holocaust Educational Trust of Ireland has also weighed into the debate. It described Tiernan's joke as "racist comments" and said it was also concerned "about the audience's reaction, which appears to have endorsed, sustained and enjoyed his comments."

Tiernan's remarks sparked fury among Jewish groups after the Sunday Tribune ran a story on them this weekend.

They reported Tiernan's response at a Q&A session at the Electric Picnic after he was asked how he dealt with people who were offended by his routines.

Tiernan described how a Jewish couple had come up to him after a gig in New York to complain about a joke about the death of Christ which ends with the punchline: "Well, it wasn't the f*cking Mexicans."

Tiernan said their complaint was "singleminded" and "righteous."

He then launhed into his now infamous imagined tirade in which he said: "These Jews, these f*cking c***s come up to me, Christkilling bastards. F*cking six million? I would have got 10 or 12 million out of that, no problem. F*ck them. Two at a time, they would have gone. Hold hands, get in there. Leave us your teeth and your glasses."

Ireland's Alan Shatter, the sole Jewish representative in parliament, said Tiernan's tirade was "disgusting and unacceptable."

A chastened Tiernan has released a statement on his Web site in which he apologizes for his controversial comments.

"I would like to say that as a private individual I am greatly upset by the thought that these comments have caused hurt to others as this was never my intention; yet, the Electric Picnic public interview with Hot Press Magazine has been taken so far out of context that I am quite bewildered.

"The things that I said in front of a live audience were in an attempt to explain my belief that one of the duties of the comic performer is to be reckless and irresponsible and that the things that they say should NEVER be taken out of context. If you read the full transcript or listen to the podcast you will see that I preface my rant by saying that it should not be taken seriously and as such, the rant took place as an example of my argument. While it is out of context, which it most definitely is now, it seems callous cruel and ignorant.

"This is not the first time that something like this has happened and it probably won’t be the last. However, as a public performer I can only hope that whatever wild, irresponsible and reckless things that come into my head will be taken in the context in which they were said."