Robertson apologizes for Sharon stroke comment

Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson has sent a letter to one of Ariel Sharon's sons apologizing for suggesting that the prime minister's massive stroke was divine punishment for his withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last year. Robertson's' comments last week drew widespread condemnation from other Christian leaders, US President George W. Bush and Israeli officials, who canceled plans to include the evangelist in the construction of a major Christian tourist center in northern Israel. In a letter dated Wednesday and marked for hand delivery to Omri Sharon, Robertson called Ariel Sharon a "kind, gracious and gentle man" who was "carrying an almost insurmountable burden of making decisions for his nation." "My concern for the future safety of your nation led me to make remarks which I can now view in retrospect as inappropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief experienced because of your father's illness," said the letter. "I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel," he wrote.