Diocese’s ‘Liveline’ complaint upheld

A complaint by the Diocese of Meath against RTÉ has been upheld by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The complaint, relating to RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline show on funeral guidelines on August 14, was lodged by the Catholic Communications Office.

In the programme, a caller stated that sympathising with families of the deceased in churches in the Diocese of Meath was not allowed, and she believed this to be a direction of the Bishop, Dr Michael Smith.

Martin Long of the Catholic Communications Office argued this was incorrect and the guidelines on the funeral Mass in place for the diocese state “clear arrangements allowing people the opportunity to offer sympathy to the family of the deceased should be put in place in each parish”.

He said the diocese office in Meath had informed the programme makers of these guidelines on foot of the programme being broadcast and informed them “that, in many parishes in the Diocese of Meath, including in the Cathedral in Mullingar, where Bishop Smith is the parish priest, the congregation is always invited to sympathise with the family at the top of the church.”

Mr Long stated it was “disappointing that this response was not broadcast or that a clarification was not provided by the programme makers in a subsequent broadcast”.

In its response, RTÉ told the BAI the producer concerned had placed a call with the Meath Diocese but there was no reply, and a decision was then taken to air the call. RTÉ said there were other listeners who said they were allowed to sympathise within the church but, according to RTÉ’s records, they would not go on air. It also said a parish priest had called in to agree with the caller but “he was not available to talk”.

RTÉ further argued that, in an email from the Diocese of Meath press office on August 16, “it did not clarify that the incident did not happen in the caller’s case”.

RTÉ said it “felt it inappropriate to read out a clarification at that time” but that it would “endeavour to clarify the issues” during further religious topics which arose regularly on the show.

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