A Greek Orthodox bishop who was criticized by Jewish groups, the Greek government and some coreligionists for blaming Greece’s financial problems on a conspiracy of Jewish bankers and claiming that the Holocaust was orchestrated by Zionists issued a statement on Thursday in which he denied that he was anti-Semitic but also equated Zionism to “Satanism.”

The bishop, known as Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, said during an interview on Greek television on Monday that Jews “control the international banking system.” He added: “Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire.”

In response to the outrage caused by his remarks, the cleric posted a statement (in Greek) on his Web site in which he stood by his theories and described himself as a friend of the Jewish people but an enemy of Zionism, a Greek newspaper, To Vima, reported.

Here is an English translation of the bishop’s complete statement, first posted online by John Sanidopoulos, a Greek-American blogger, and verified by a Greek-speaking reporter for The New York Times:

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Greek Bishop Equates Zionism to 'Satanism' -