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DUBLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Ireland's Catholics are being urged to defund the nation's taxpayer-funded broadcaster after it televised a mock news report on New Year's Eve accusing God of raping the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) One television issued a weak apology Saturday but refused to delete the clip from the RTÉ Player online catch-up service, stating that it would attach a warning advising viewers that the material may cause offense.
The sacrilegious sketch, which features former RTÉ anchor Aengus Mac Grianna (above) describing God as "the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals," provoked outrage from Irish Catholics on social media, with over 1,100 formal complaints lodged with RTÉ.
In the clip the newscaster reads: "The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young middle-eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will, before being sentenced to two years in prison, with the last 24 months suspended."
The camera shows "God" dressed in a long white robe and with long white hair and a beard being led away by a member of the Gardaí (Irish police) and shouting: "It was 2,000 years ago."
The footage ends by reporting that Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, who is serving a 23-year sentence in the United States for rape and sexual assault, has "requested for a retrial in Ireland."
"To broadcast such a deeply offensive and blasphemous clip about God and Our Blessed Mother Mary during the Christmas season" and on the "Eve of the Solemn Feast of Mary, Mother of God is insulting to all Catholics and Christians," Martin tweeted.
The primate said he was "shocked" that the producer/editor of the show, created by Irish satirical news website Waterford Whispers News, didn't realize how "deeply offensive was a mocking 'news report' accusing God of rape and reporting his imprisonment."
The archbishop's tweet was met by support but also mockery with commenters referring to the clerical sex abuse scandals in Ireland.
"Agreed, Archbishop Eamon," well-known Irish Catholic poet and academic Dr. Ciarán Ó. Coigligh replied. "Sadly, the removal of reference to blasphemy from the Constitution was not contested by the Catholic Church. I believe it could have been defeated."
Coigligh said that he had contested the repeal of Ireland's blasphemy law which was abolished following a constitutional referendum in October 2018, which piggybacked on the momentum from the pro-abortion referendum in May 2018.
In a bold appeal towards the end of Holy Mass, Fr. Seán Mulligan from Monaghan called on his parishioners to defund the national broadcaster, as faithful Catholics launched an online petition protesting the blasphemy.
"If you were in any doubt about RTÉ's anti-Catholic and anti-Christian agenda before this, then you should be in no doubt any longer, though I don't know how you could have not picked up on it during the last referendums," said Mulligan, a former well-known Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) footballer.
"Every decent Catholic should at this stage be boycotting RTÉ and sending in a letter of complaint to both RTÉ's complaints department and to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland," he urged. "And maybe you should even consider canceling your TV license fee at this stage."
Irish law compels citizens to pay an annual license fee of €160 for any address at which there is a television set.
Archbishop-Elect of Dublin Dermot Farrell also said he was "deeply disturbed" by the clip.
A "discourse which fails to respect the victims of all ages and genders of this most degrading of crimes has not any place in our world," Farrell remarked.
However, on Saturday Farrell upset faithful Catholics by calling for women deaconesses claiming that the biggest barrier to female priests in the Catholic Church "is probably Tradition, not the Scriptures."
Farrell conceded that women priests could split the Church as it had the Church of England.
The archbishop-designate also suggested adopting the Eastern Orthodox model of optional celibacy for priests, commenting: "You have the celibate language and you have the married language. You have to make a choice before you are ordained, usually, in those churches."
Speaking to Church Militant, a spokesperson for the Irish Catholic Arena website lamented Farrell's comments:
Catholics have had years of Abp. Diarmuid Martin bowing to media and State while demoralizing his flock with pessimistic forecasts, now we have the national broadcaster mocking Our Lord and Our Lady and his successor the new archbishop of Dublin continues telling the media what they want to hear.
In this instance, he does this by giving a lengthy interview in an anti-Catholic newspaper where he focuses on closing parishes and ordaining women deacons. Irish Catholics have had enough with negativity and retreat, we need action and optimism.
Ireland's Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989, forbids "broadcasts likely to stir up hatred" and airing items "involving threatening, abusive or insulting visual images or sounds" inciting hatred on account of "race, color, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the traveling community or sexual orientation."
Ireland passed the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill in 2017, which forbids offensive or degrading communication.
Catholic Arena told Church Militant a number of Catholics had filed police complaints under this law against the RTÉ telecast.
Ireland began a public consultation on new hate speech and hate crime legislation in October 2019.
In December 2020, the government proposed new laws criminalizing sharing or retweeting of "hate" speech on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, even if the person sharing it was not the author.
The law will protect transgender and homosexual people, alongside immigrants and ethnic and religious minorities.