Priests urge boycott of RTÉ licence fee

Priests urge boycott of RTÉ licence fee Photo: The Irish Sun

Chai Brady, Ruadhán Jones and Jason Osborne

A satirical sketch broadcast by RTÉ accusing God of rape has been dubbed “scurrilous” and “disgraceful” and has provoked thousands of complaints from viewers.

The national broadcaster logged almost 5,000 complaints by the time this paper went to print regarding the New Year’s Eve broadcast which depicted a man described as God being arrested for rape.

Fr Gerry Kane PP of Booterstown in Dublin vowed that he would break the law and not pay his television license due to the offensive broadcast.

“I am at the moment being forced to pay – by law – for something that is against my conscience and I can’t in conscience continue to pay my licence fee and I don’t intend to. I will break the law,” he told The Irish Catholic.

RTÉ apologised to those that were offended but left the sketch on their online platform, adding a warning label to the content. It was a move described by barrister and columnist Maria Steen as “mealy mouthed”.

Fr Kane said: “Their so-called apology and leaving it up on RTÉ Player is what finally incensed me completely, they don’t see anything wrong with it, they’re hiding behind the notion that satire hurts some people – that wasn’t satire it was mockery plain and simple, scurrilous mockery.”

Co. Monaghan-based priest Fr Seán Mulligan said he believed that “Every devout Catholic should at this stage be boycotting RTÉ and refusing to renew your TV license.

“We deserve better from a national broadcaster. If the best they can provide for entertainment is to attack the divinity of God and the sanctity and purity of his holy mother, Mary, then we can do better elsewhere,” he said.

Mrs Steen said she believed the station “simply does not care about offending Christians.

“But we don’t have to pay for it any longer. You may choose to insult me and my religion; I should not be required to pay you to do so.

“This latest offence by RTÉ underscores the reality that the station simply doesn’t deserve to be propped up any more by the licence fee,” she said.

Huge reaction

Fr John Collins of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) added that he believes RTÉ will be surprised by the “huge reaction” to the broadcast, and that people are making their voices heard which is a good thing.

In Tipperary, Fr Michael Toomey – who has been celebrating a lot of the online Masses that the station has been offering during the pandemic – said he was “deeply saddened” to see the “horrendous” item aired.

However Fr Toomey said: “there are parts of RTÉ that have done phenomenal work. I was in RTÉ in December, and the welcome I got and the respect that was shown for the Mass, even in the studio of the camera people and the directors, was very respectful and welcoming. I’m sure they would have thought this was below the belt.

“I think it’s a new low for RTÉ. I know there have been calls to remove it from the online player, but it’s too late for that now. It’s out there, people will watch it anyway, they’ll find other ways. I think if RTÉ were really sincere, they would have taken it down straight away,” Fr Toomey said.