Church demands RTE apology over sketch by comic
Catholic watchdog insists station must act after Rosenstock's 'offensive' jibe on Eucharist
An unholy row has broken out between the Catholic Church and impersonator Mario Rosenstock over an RTE sketch about Olympic champion Katie Taylor that appears to mock Holy Communion.
The Catholic Communications Office (CCO) has formally complained to RTE and demanded an apology over the boxing-themed sketch set in a church, which showed a man spitting into a bucket – in the manner of a prize fighter – before receiving Holy Communion.
"Any objective viewer would certainly see the offence caused in ridiculing the reception of Holy Communion, the Eucharist, which is the Body of Christ. To make fun of this sacred act is sacrilege and is offensive to the core belief of every Catholic," church spokesman Martin Long wrote in a letter to RTE managing director of television Glen Killane.
Rosenstock said yesterday he was disappointed with the church's reaction. He denied that the parody shown on his RTE Two show last Monday night was aimed 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.
"On a more serious note, it seems to me that there is a bigger game afoot. After the Prime Time Investigates controversy over Fr Reynolds, does the church now believe it can go around and start telling RTE what they can and cannot show?" he asked.
Demanding an apology, the CCO wrote: "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 decency which we should be able to expect from our national public service broadcaster."
The CCO said it had received complaints concerning the broadcast. "I ask that RTE Two broadcasts an apology at 9.30pm this Monday, December 3, and also to remove the offensive sketch from the RTE website.
"In addition, I ask that you please consider the core beliefs of Catholics before broadcasting content which may cause offence to [the] church faithful.
"In order to assist, I invite you to contact the CCO if RTE wishes to seek guidance in advance of similar broadcasts in the future."
But Rosenstock rejected the complaint, adding: "On a playful note, I might add that Jesus himself would have laughed at it."
He said that he was worried about how the church would react to a sketch on tomorrow night's show, which features a skit based around the famous interview of Mother Teresa by Gay Byrne on the Late Late Show some years ago.
"They won't like it, I fear," he said, "but like the Katie Taylor sketch it is only a harmless bit of fun."
After just two episodes of The Mario Rosenstock Show, RTE has already confirmed that it is committed to a second season of the comedy series.