RTÉ complaints part of Church ‘agenda’: Rosenstock

Comedian Mario Rosenstock has hit back at the Catholic Communications Office after the Church’s press office lodged a formal complaint with RTÉ over a sketch in Rosenstock’s television show.

In the sketch, a man is shown in a church spitting into a bucket. Mr Rosenstock has claimed the joke was not aimed at the Catholic Church but was a reference to the phenomenon of Irish Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor and her boxing success.

The Catholic Communications Office did not see the funny side, however, and wrote to RTÉ’s managing director of television Glen Killane.

Details of the letter emerged yesterday, with the CCO demanding an apology.

CCO director of communications Martin Long said: “By making this complaint, I am not suggesting that the Church is beyond humour by comedians. However, a line must be drawn at some point and to parody the reception of the Eucharist in such a manner goes beyond basic standards of taste and dec-ency which we should be able to expect from our national public service broadcaster.”

Mr Long also wrote that the sketch was “ridiculing” the Eucharist, adding: “To make fun of this sacred act is sacrilege and is offensive to the core belief of the Church.”

The CCO said it had received complaints over the broadcast of the sketch on last week’s programme and urged RTÉ to issue an apology and remove the sketch from the show on the RTÉ Player.

However, Mr Rosenstock, who has received confirmation from RTÉ that it will screen a second series of The Mario Rosenstock Show, said the sketch from last Monday night’s programme had not been targeted at the Church.

“It was clearly based on the phenomenon that is Katie Taylor and how her success has permeated every facet of Irish life,” said Mr Rosenstock.

Describing the sketch — and another sketch to be aired on tonight’s show based on an interview by Gay Byrne with Mother Teresa — as “a harmless bit of fun” he said he believed there was “a bigger game afoot”.

“After the Prime Time Investigates controversy over Fr [Kevin] Reynolds, does the Church now believe it can go around and start telling RTÉ what they can and cannot show?”

He also told The Sunday Independent that he thought Jesus would have laughed at the sketch.

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