Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Almost a thousand complaints over Late Late Eucharist ridicule

Leinster parishioners have submitted hundreds of complaints to RTÉ about how the Eucharist was ridiculed in the national broadcaster’s flagship chat show.

More than 900 letters have been sent from parishes in Laois, Carlow, and Kildare, The Irish Catholic has learned, following a discussion on The Late Late Show in which the Eucharist was referred to as “haunted bread”.

Over 400 letters have been sent to RTÉ from Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, according to Fr Gerard Ahern, PP, with about 350 being sent from Hacketstown, Co. Carlow, and roughly 200 more from Naas, Co. Kildare.

During the January 6 discussion, comedian David Chambers – ‘Blindboy Boatclub’ in the comedy duo The Rubberbandits – said any young people attending midnight Mass at Christmas were going because it was a family event, with them “not going there for haunted bread”. 

Description

When presenter Ryan Tubridy remarked that the phrase ‘haunted bread’ was “a great expression”, Mr Chambers said that was an accurate description. Claiming that the Church “does not want us to use critical thinking”, he said the Church wanted people “to eat the ghost of a 2,000-year-old carpenter”. 

Describing the discussion as “terrible”, Fr Ahern told The Irish Catholic he had arranged for the exchange to be transcribed, and read the transcription at Mass, asking that any parishioners who were troubled by it to send a letter to RTÉ about the matter. Sample letters were supplied, he said, with the transcribed exchange on their reverse side. 

Signatories to the letter wrote saying that they were “greatly offended” by the discussion on The Late Late Show, arguing that Mr Tubridy failed in his duty to maintain balance and uphold the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) code of programme standards which require broadcasters to “show due respect for religious views, images, practices and beliefs in programme material”. 

Describing the term “haunted bread” as “particularly offensive”, the letter took issue with how Mr Tubridy encouraged the term’s use. 

Fr Ahern contacted the BAI to ensure that proper procedures were being followed, he explained, adding that “RTÉ have a number of days to reply, and if they don’t it can be taken up with the BAI afterwards”.

“I just wasn’t prepared to sit back and do nothing,” he said.

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