Friday 21 September 2018

‘Parishioners are disturbed and angry’ about RTÉ coverage of Pope’s visit, priest says

Pope Francis at the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at Phoenix Park in Dublin. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Pope Francis at the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at Phoenix Park in Dublin. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Rachel Farrell

An Irish priest claimed that many of his parishioners are angry at RTÉ’s “imbalanced” coverage of the papal visit.

Fr Finian Connaughton, from Co Meath, wrote an open letter on the reaction of parishioners to the media coverage when Pope Francis visited Ireland in August, taking to the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) website to encourage other members to “challenge RTÉ”.

“Can I suggest, through the ACP website, that it is now time to challenge RTE; this time in relation to their coverage of the World Meeting of Families that included the visit of Pope Francis,” the priest said.

“So many parishioners are disturbed and angry about it and ask if ‘there is nothing we can do about it?’ One of my friends has begun a one-man campaign by refusing to pay his TV licence. 

“When one reflects on the power of withholding rents, charges, etc., and the power of boycott, from our history one would have to say that he has a valid point. Imagine if enough people had the guts to join him.”

Among the “instances of bias and misrepresentation” Fr Connaughton claims that RTÉ depicted are archive items that were broadcasted in the lead up to the visit, that had a “damaging effect” on priests and other members of the church.

He claims that researchers located people and priests that are “well known to wield a permanent axe against the church” for chat-line programmes. 

He added that the Pope was given “zero credit” for his merits among the coverage, and that panels on discussion programmes were “imbalanced”.

Salvatorian Army Majors Jill and Stuart Dicker who came to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park.
Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Salvatorian Army Majors Jill and Stuart Dicker who came to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Pope Francis arriving at Knock Shrine with Fr Richard Gibbons and Archbishop Neary. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th AUgust 2018
Nicola Boymanda and Renatha Rugarabamu from Tanzania who came to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Harry Lloyd from Ballyshannon reads up on the Papal visit ahead of the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Anne Marie Walshe meets the papal macsot in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Pilgrims arrive in the Phoenix Park ahead of the Papal mass. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Lily Gallagher, Mary Nugent and Anne Hughes from Drogheda ahead of the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park. Picture; Gerry Mooney
anne New and Leslie Mullen ahead of the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Bernie Meleady, Mary and Eamon Sweeney from Letterkenny ahead of the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Donal and Catherine Kavanagh from Leixlip ahead of the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park. Picture; Gerry Mooney
People take a break on their way to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Pilgrims arrive in the Phoenix Park ahead of the Papal mass. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Ellen Watkins (11) from Jersey ahead of the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Ellen Watkins (11) from Jersey ahead of the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Sean (5), Aoibhe (8) and Conor Holland (7) from Ballyhooly Co. Cork ahead of the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park. Picture; Gerry Mooney
People make thier way along Benburb Street to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Nicola Boymanda and Renatha Rugarabamu from Tanzania who came to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Ramiro and Ana D’Araujo from Angola who came to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
People make thier way along Benburb Street to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Delfina and Edward Masika from Tanzania who came to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018
Shauneen Mckernan, Amelia McGeehan, Patricia Mcgeehan, Claire McVey, Blaithin McFlynn and Noelle McVey who came to see Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/8/2018

The Drumconrath parish priest concluded that members of the church often feel like “Father Teds” and criticised the inclusion of a comedian during RTÉ’s coverage.

He said: “On a final point concerning imbalance on panels; for me the ultimate insult was the inclusion of a comedian on the analysis of that wonderful Croke Park experience on Saturday night.

“As church, as people, we are all seen as Fr. Teds; good to laugh at, and don’t forget that in RTE parlance the words priest and paedophile, cleric and abuse always go hand in hand.

“Are we priests happy to see our profession, vocation, however we name what we do, ridiculed day after day and say nothing about it? Our silence is deafening and dangerous.

“I hope these few lines are seen as some attempt to redress the imbalance and keep some kind of flag flying for a team several goals down and struggling.”

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for RTÉ told Independent.ie that "RTÉ's coverage of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland was balanced and fair and, as host broadcaster for domestic and international audiences, thorough and complete, providing almost 18 hours of continuous live coverage.

Pilgrims listen to Pope Francis address the crowd at Knock Shrine.
Pic Steve Humphreys
26th August 2018
Pilgrims listen to Pope Francis address the crowd at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
26/08/2018 Pope Francis passes Knock Basilica as he visited Knock Shrine as part of the World Meeting of Families. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Pilgrims listen to Pope Francis address the crowd at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
26/08/2018 Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he visited Knock Shrine as part of the World Meeting of Families. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
26/08/2018 Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he visited Knock Shrine as part of the World Meeting of Families. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Pilgrims listen to Pope Francis address the crowd at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
26/08/2018 Cleonagh and Declan Sweeney, from Raheen, Limerick with their children from left to right, Cathal, 9, Amy, 7, Katelyn, 4, and Donnacha, 10 at Knock Shrine for the visit of Pope Francis. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Young girls waving flags as Pope Francis arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis greets pilgrims as he arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
26/08/2018 A young girl waves a flag as pope Francis visited Knock Shrine as part of the World Meeting of Families. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Pope Francis delivers an address to the crowd at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis greets pilgrims as he arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis cape blows over his head during a windy spell as he delivers his speech at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis arrives at the Apparition Chapel at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis greets addresses the crowd at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis addresses the crowd as he arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Empty seats as Pope Francis addresses the crowd after he arrived at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis greets pilgrims as he arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Declan Ganley arriving at Knock Shrine to see Pope Francis. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Declan Ganley arriving at Knock Shrine to see Pope Francis. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Empty seats as Pope Francis addresses the crowd after he arrived at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis delivers an address to the crowd at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis greets pilgrims as he arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Gardai pictured waiting to say goodbye to OPope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis leaves Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Members of Pope Francis Entourage board the Plane at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis greets pilgrims as he arrives at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pope Francis speaks to the audience during his visit to Knock, Ireland August 26, 2018. Vatican Media/Handout
Pope Francis arrives at the Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Pope Francis arrives at the Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
REFILE - CORRECTING BYLINE Pope Francis leads the Angelus at the Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Pope Francis leads the Angelus at the Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Pope Francis greets children after arriving in Knock, Ireland August 26, 2018. Vatican Media/Handout
Pope Francis lays a wreath at the Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland August 26, 2018. Vatican Media/Handout
Pope Francis lights a candle at the Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland August 26, 2018. Vatican Media/Handout
Pope Francis leads the Angelus at the Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Pope Francis during a visit to Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo to view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pope Francis during a visit to Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo to view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pope Francis greets school children after arriving at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis greets school children after arriving at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis greets school children after arriving at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis greets school children after arriving at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis arrives for his visit to Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo to view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pope Francis is presented with flowers by Saoirse McCarthy, 11, from St. Patrick's National School, Cloonlyon, Co. Mayo as he arrives at Ireland West Airport, Knock, County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. WMOF18/Maxwell Photography/PA Wire
Pope Francis greets Knock School Children at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
The Pope’s Plane arrives at Ireland West Airport, Knock. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis is kissed by Mary McCarthy at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
The Pope’s Plane arrives at Ireland West Airport, Knock. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Schoolchildren from St. Patrick’s National School, Cloonlyon wait to greet Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis with Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring greets Clergy at Ireland West Airport, Knock. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Michael Ring, Minister for Rural Affairs with Catherine Hynes (wife of MAyo Co, Manager) and Blackie Gavin, Lord MAyor, Castlebar at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
The Pope’s Plane pictured arriving at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis carefully makes his way down the steps from his plane at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis greets Knock School Children at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock today. PIC COLIN O’RIORDAN
Pope Francis is greeted by a delegation of clergy and representatives from Ireland West Airport as he arrives at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis is greeted by a delegation of clergy and representatives from Ireland West Airport as he arrives at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis is greeted by a delegation of clergy and representatives from Ireland West Airport as he arrives at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
The plane carrying Pope Francis arrives at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
The plane carrying Pope Francis arrives at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis is greeted by a delegation of clergy and representatives from Ireland West Airport as he arrives at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
The plane carrying Pope Francis arrives at the airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
People wait in the rain ahead of a visit of Pope Francis to Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pope Francis as he arrives at Ireland West Airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis blesses schoolchildren as he arrives at Ireland West Airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis as he arrives at Ireland West Airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pope Francis blesses schoolchildren as he arrives at Ireland West Airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
The plane carrying Pope Francis arrives at Ireland West Airport in Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
The faithful wait ahead of a visit of Pope Francis to Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
The faithful wait in the rain ahead of a visit of Pope Francis to Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Schoolchildren wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Ireland West Airport, Knock in County Mayo, as part of his visit to Ireland. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
The faithful wait in the rain ahead of a visit of Pope Francis to Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
The faithful wait in the rain ahead of a visit of Pope Francis to Knock Shrine in Knock, Ireland, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Knock Holy Shrine, in County Mayo where he will view the Apparition Chapel and to give the Angelus address, as part of his visit to Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire
26/08/2018 Liam Hughes, from Athlone at Knock Shrine for the visit of Pope Francis. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
26/08/2018 Annemarie and Aaron Ward from Tuam with their children from left to right Destiny, Santana and Martin pictured at Knock Shrine for the visit of Pope Francis. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
26/08/2018 Holly, 8 and Paddy, 6, Hunt from Knock pictured outside Knock Shrine for the visit of Pope Francis. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
26/08/2018 Holly, 8 and Paddy, 6, Hunt from Knock pictured outside Knock Shrine for the visit of Pope Francis. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Rev Thomas Harrington from Cork arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims and children arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
Pilgrims including Dominic Dunleavy from Tuam arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018
26/08/2018 Annemarie and Aaron Ward from Tuam with their children from left to right Destiny, Santana and Martin pictured at Knock Shrine for the visit of Pope Francis. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
26/08/2018 People wait in the rain at Knock Shrine for the visit of Pope Francis. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
26/08/2018 People wait in the rain at Knock Shrine for the visit of Pope Francis. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Pilgrims arriving to see Pope Francis at Knock Shrine. Pic Steve Humphreys 26th August 2018

"RTÉ's own audience research shows that almost 88 per cent of the audience felt the tone of RTÉ's coverage was appropriate, with 89pc saying it was important that RTÉ covered the visit. The majority of the audience felt that RTÉ offered a proper range of perspectives on the visit.

"RTÉ covered issues around clerical sex abuse in advance of the visit, including three highly significant statements by leaders of the Catholic Church in Ireland dealing directly with the issue of abuse in this country.

"Pope Francis also addressed this issue extensively during his visit, including a long meeting with survivors and a plea for forgiveness for the Church failures in this regard at the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park."

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