The Communications Office of the Irish bishops has demanded a full apology and retraction from radio presenter Ray D'Arcy after he told listeners "the Catholic Church, in many ways, has fucked up this country".
D'Arcy, regarded as Ireland's most successful independent broadcaster, made the comments live on air during a review of the morning newspapers -- a regular segment on his Today FM show which boasts 245,000 listeners.
Catholic communications chief Martin Long has demanded that the station and presenter retract the "insulting" and "offensive" comment on air tomorrow.
D'Arcy, who describes himself as an atheist, was reviewing coverage of a Dail speech made by Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin.
Ms Mulherin described "fornication", consensual sex between two unmarried people, as the biggest cause of unwanted pregnancy.
The use of the archaic term "fornication" provoked headlines and some derision -- though it was part of a nuanced speech in which Ms Mulherin, a solicitor, was attempting to tease out the legal and moral issues surrounding a bill unsuccessfully brought forward by Socialist Party TD Clare Daly to legislate for the X case and allow abortion in cases where the mother's health was in doubt.
Ms Mulherin said the religious argument was "abortion is murder, therefore sin". But she said it was no more sinful than other sins that are not banned by law, such as "greed, hate and fornication".
She also said nobody should be having unsafe sex, "with AIDS and all the sexually transmitted diseases we know about.
"That has to be questioned as well. How well and how much are we respecting our own lives and our own bodies in the process?" she said
In his letter to station bosses, Mr Long said: "Mr D'Arcy's statement is grossly offensive and factually inaccurate. All those who hold the Catholic faith dear are deeply insulted by this appalling language.
"By any objective or subjective measure, lay and religious members of the Catholic Church have and continue to contribute to the common good of our society, particularly in the areas of poverty, social justice, health and education.
"In addition, it is shocking to hear such language on a national radio station at 9.15 on a school-day morning. I ask that an apology and a retraction be broadcast by the presenter at an equivalent time the next time the programme is broadcast, on Monday, 23 April," Mr Long wrote.
In an interview with Hot Press two years ago, D'Arcy said: "I would have attended Mass until about 28.
"And increasingly, I was finding myself during the sermon questioning things.
"And then there was a new curate, and he came to the sermon -- and he could have been younger than me. I was 28 or 29 at the time -- and he said that if you're not suffering, you're not a good Catholic. And at that stage I just said: 'Ah lads, come on'."
Producer Will Hanafin said that the presenter apologised later during Friday morning's programme for using the "F-word in the heat of the moment".
Mr Hanafin said the complaint would be discussed at a pre-programme meeting on Monday morning.