A row over a description of the Eucharist as ‘haunted bread’ on an edition of The Late Late Show television programme in January is being referred to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
During a discussion about whether Catholics in their ’30s were
increasingly returning to practising their faith, one of the programme’s
panellists, Dave Chambers, was disparaging towards the Catholic
doctrine of transubstantiation when he referred to the Eucharist as
Among those watching the programme was Fr Kevin McNamara, parish
priest of Moyvane in north Kerry. He was disappointed with the reaction
of the show’s presenter Ryan Tubridy, which he describes as being
supportive of the description.
“I would expect any presenter to display
an unbiased view, and not to endorse any personal views expressed by
guests on the show,” said Fr McNamara, who wrote to the programme to
Responding, the Late Late’s producer Larry Masterson claimed that Mr
Chambers was speaking “in the language of his generation and his
Mr Chambers is a member of the Rubber Bandits, a
Limerick-based hip-hop group, and he is better known by his stage name
Mr Masterson’s response continued: “The phrase ‘haunted bread’ was
certainly provocative. He used it to get a reaction and indeed it did.
It was, in my view, a linguistic phrase that encapsulates ‘The Holy
Ghost’ and Holy Communion.
“In attempting to hear new voices on the Late Late Show, it is
inevitable that some will not like what they hear. Nevertheless, I
accept that the phrase ‘haunted bread’ has caused offence to some
viewers and has been seen by some as disrespectful or mocking and for
that I apologise.”
Fr McNamara says he is disappointed by the response, particularly as
it does not deal with how Ryan Tubridy, as presenter, handled the issue.
Fr McNamara says the presenter, who earns €459,000 a year from RTÉ,
“enthusiastically endorsed the term”.
In this week’s Moyvane Parish Newsletter, the PP wrote: “I wonder
what the reaction would be had a guest insulted the core values of
another faith? From my viewing of our national channels, the Catholic
faith is not afforded sufficient respect or fair play. As I feel the
Late Late Show has not dealt adequately with my concerns, I must now
take my complaint to the Broadcasting Authority.”
The presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist has long been a part of
Catholic Church teaching, but the doctrine of transubstantiation can
provoke ecumenical sensitivities.
Transubstantiation was confirmed as part of Catholic dogma at the
Council of Trent in 1551, where it was stated that by “the consecration
of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance
of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of
the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood”.
In 1563 the Church of England declared the doctrine “repugnant to the
plain words of Scripture” and consequently the celebration of Mass
became illegal in these islands as part of the Penal Laws.
Conversely, the term ‘Holy Ghost’ is an Anglican coinage, first found
in the King James Bible.
The term is generally frowned upon among
English-speaking Roman Catholics, who prefer the term ‘Holy Spirit’.
There is a possible exception to this: the Congregation of the Holy
Spirit (CSSP) is known in the English-speaking world as the ‘Holy Ghost
Fathers’. Elsewhere in the world, they are known as the ‘Spiritan
Fathers’ or ‘Spiritans’.
However, it is likely that the nickname ‘Holy Ghost Fathers’ was
imposed on them by the British rulers of these islands, just as Catholic
priests on these islands do not call themselves ‘padre’, yet that is
the title they are given when serving as curates in the British army.