Pressure is mounting on RTÉ this week after it was revealed that over 2,000 complaint letters have been sent in response to the ‘haunted bread’ incident on The Late Late Show.
Fr Gerard Ahern of Abbeyleix, who has led the growing letter campaign to RTÉ since a guest on the flagship programme went unchallenged when describing the Eucharist as ‘haunted bread’, confirmed to The Irish Catholic that, having pursued the obligatory path of communicating his original complaint directly to RTÉ first, and being dissatisfied with the response, he has lodged his own formal complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
This adds to the complaint already lodged by Kerry-based Fr Kevin McNamara.
“I received a three-page reply from RTÉ,” Fr Ahern said, “which tried to put the incident into the context of entertainment. But this is about Ryan Turbridy failing in his duty to be balanced. Instead, he said the ‘haunted bread’ was a ‘great expression’.”
Reiterating his sense of insult, Fr Ahern went on: “We’re not standing up enough for our faith now. I’m not going to sit back on this.”
RTÉ’s letter, seen by The Irish Catholic, conveys the same defence as communicated earlier to Fr McNamara that “the phrase ‘haunted bread’ in relation to the doctrine of transubstantiation was certainly provocative…The phrase was a linguistic encapsulation of The Holy Ghost and Holy Communion to illustrate the speaker’s and many of his generation’s difficulty with the belief in transubstantiation.”
It goes on to express “regret that you found aspects of the discussion offensive” but insists that “RTÉ does not believe that this broadcast was in breach of… the BAI Code of Programme Standards”.
Meanwhile, The Irish Catholic has learned that the complaint letter campaign to RTÉ is growing, with the parishes of Abbeyleix, Hacketstown and Naas sending at least 2,000 letters between them.
The RTÉ press office this week confirmed that the broadcaster to date “has received 1,352 formal complaints about that particular edition of The Late Late Show”.
In response to an inquiry from this paper, the BAI confirmed that it “has registered five complaint referrals regarding the January 6 edition of The Late Late Show”.