Should we accept disrespect for the Eucharist on State Television?

Fr. Sean McDonagh,
St. Columban’s,
Dalgan Park,
Navan, Co. Meath,
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland,
5 Warrington Pl,
Grand Canal Dock,
D02 XP29
February 27th 2017.
Dear Sir/Madam,
I am a member of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland (ACP). This organisation represents over 1,000 Catholic priests. At a meeting of our association in Athlone on February 22nd 2017, I was asked to write to you and lodge a complaint about the description of the Eucharist as “haunted bread” by Blindboy Boatclub of Rubberbandits on the Late Late Show on January 6th 2017. This insulting language was not challenged by the RTE presenter, Ryan Tubridy
The Eucharist is a central celebration of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the Church of Ireland. It has been at the heart of Christian worship for 2,000 years. To have such disrespectful language used about the Eucharist on RTE was disgraceful. RTE is a public broadcasting corporation which is supported by licence fees paid by members of these Churches.
If someone speaking on RTE, ridiculed Islam’s Shahadah, Salat or Hajj, do you think that the RTE presenter would not have intervened in order to make it perfectly clear that insulting religious beliefs or practices was totally unacceptable on RTE?
So, why cannot Christians be treated with the same courtesy? We at the ACP, and many other Christians, believe that an apology from RTE is warranted.
Sincerely yours,
Fr. Seán McDonagh, (Association of Catholic Priests).
cc  Director General, RTÉ, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
Ryan Tubridy, Late Late Show, RTE, Donnybrook, Dublin 4. ·
Reply from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

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  1. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Well I can’t help but feel this is a loaded question. Despite my intuition telling me not to touch it with a ten foot pole for fear of judgement, I’ve been so critical that questions are so rarely answered on this site, I can’t be a hypocrite and bypass it.
    As identified in the letter, the world-wide governments who identify Islam as the religious belief of the majority of their population are not well-known for affording a freedom of speech or expression against it.
    Christianity’s followers can trace their roots back to these conditions of life but our societies then embraced freedom of expression as a core tenet as laid out in 1948 when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Everyone has the right to opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Having limitless control over what people say and think is totalitarian and is not conducive to a healthy society.
    As you ask, if the person in question, guests as well as host had something to say against a pillar of Islam, what fallout would you expect from that exchange? To be honest – I think the sky is the limit on that one: temporary building closures, death threats perhaps, heightened security measures round the clock.
    So let’s say the host is Christian – is this an example of him turning the other cheek? If he isn’t, then perhaps he understands the more important freedoms afforded to civilians and especially comedians and social commentators in a society founded on the tenets of Christianity, where turning the other cheek became the response of choice according to the UN.
    Do we want networks to afford Christianity the same respect given to Islam? I guess that’s the problem. This might be impossible based on the fundamental ideals held by Christianity’s religious faithful. I’m rarely if ever insulted by people’s rather obtuse perceptions of my cultural traditions. According to the Bible, I believe this is the way it teaches me to respond.
    Should you accept disrespect of the Eucharist on state television? Never as a truth. Should you tolerate social commentators/comedians who have been granted the freedom to express their warped perceptions of culture to an open audience because a “turn the other cheek” philosophy is present? Please answer me that.
    On a side-note – here’s the most important reason I’ve maintained my pro-Catholicism stance at a time so many have moved away from it – especially at my age : I’ve witnessed first hand when atheists and agnostics live their life trying to be free of the influence of religion and what they personally feel that specific culture detracts; they somehow start to behave like proper Christians – they become more open to differences in opinion, less apt to judge, and are mostly concerned with keeping peace and treating people with a respect they’d wish to obtain in return.
    Maybe God is simply good. Whatever the case, he moves in mysterious ways.

  2. I fear that incomprehension of the Eucharist is an inevitable consequence of decades of non-dialogue over its meaning in Ireland, and the rushed humdrum autopilot ‘celebrations’ of Mass that too often result.
    Decades ago there was a priest here in this Protestant-majority locale so ‘into’ what he was doing that on occasions when members of other Christian traditions were present he could pause before each part of the Mass to introduce that in clear, vital terms. Because HE was fully present ‘the real presence’ of Jesus was also conveyed. Nothing like that happens nowadays in my experience.
    For decades now in that experience we have been reciting the Creed at Sunday and vigil masses without ever reflecting on what we are saying – including the extraordinary claim of Jesus’ resurrection – apparently to obey the unspoken Irish rubric of getting this ‘celebration’ over as quickly as possible. ‘Prayers of the faithful’ justify that description only rarely, apparently for the same reason. Homilies reference the Gospel past and the hoped for Heaven of the future – but never, vitally, the present challenges to faith from the prevailing culture in a manner that could arrest the attention of the missing generations.
    And NEVER have we been convened to discuss this last circumstance, as a parish community. ‘Let’s not talk about the meltdown’ – this is instead the unspoken protocol.
    So do we believing participants ‘respect’ the Eucharist sufficiently to warrant protests against those who speak of ‘haunted bread’ on the Late Late?
    Personally I think we should instead treat that episode as a direly needed wake-up call, and take’real time’ to become fully mindful of what we are doing and saying at the Eucharist – before we die and are asked why we so seldom, if ever, did!

  3. DR. HENRY says:

    May I suggest that the Holy Eucharist not be discussed at any great length on this site. In other words, I suggest that we all cool it or we will have thousands of pages of complex reading to do. In a spirit of respect for all priests and bishops, Dr. Henry

  4. Your link to the reply from the Broadcasting Authority doesn’t seem to work but it doesn’t matter too much. This is par for the course – in fact pretty mild for RTE compared to their libelling a Catholic priest as a paedophile and describing people who support traditional marriage as “homophobes”. It is also normal for the “liberal” media world-wide.
    At the time of the Danish cartoons controversy in 2005, the Boston Globe refused to publish the cartoons about Muhammed on the grounds that they would harm community relations. A number of readers wrote in to complain that on THREE occasions the Globe had published a copy of the “Piss Christ” photograph by the “artist” Andres Serrano. This depicts a crucifix submerged in a glass of Serrano’s urine. The Globe ombudsman issued some sort of a justification on the basis that “two wrongs don’t make a right” – something like that. You COULD read that as suggesting a belated apology for publishing Serrano’s trashy work; however it’s more likely the Globe editors just had to say SOMETHING and that was the best they could manage!
    The media types who trash their own culture are unlikely to be able to defend western society against the barbarians within (or outside) the gates. In fact they themselves constitute the barbarians within!

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