RTÉ were in trouble with the Vatican back in May this year when a camera crew breached Italian law by filming an Italian actress dressed as a cleric in “a religiously sensitive area”. Now, as reported by IOL News, and here at the Irish Times[subs req], they’ve fallen foul of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission in Ireland who, following a complaint by a Fr. Desmond – that it was a “tasteless and vulgar display, a mockery of the Blessed Eucharist, the central tenet of the Catholic faith” and that “no reputable broadcasting body would insult the religion held by the majority of the people” – have ruled that a scene in the satirical RTÉ 2 programme The Unbelievable Truth – Colin Farrell’s darkest secrets “was likely to be offensive to people of particular religious beliefs.” – Full ruling here [Word doc] [You know, there is an off-button – Ed]From the BCC ruling
Decision of the Commission
The Commission has considered the broadcast, the submissions made by the complainant and the broadcaster. This programme was a satirical take on the character and lifestyle of the actor Colin Farrell. The Commission notes that the content was somewhat irreverent from the outset. It was also evident to the viewer that the humour was edgy and flippant. The Commission would also acknowledge that humour often walks a tightrope in regard to taste and decency. However, due care needs to be taken with religious beliefs. In this particular broadcast, a scene included an actor (supposedly Colin Farrell) as a priest performing the sacrament of Holy Communion. The setting is in a church, with four men in attendance and the background music was of a religious nature. In the course of the scene, the actor priest from the altar states ‘Look, I knows youse are horny and I feel your frustration. I’m here to give of my body so that you can eh commit sins. Now who’s first, lets go? The four men approach the altar and the actor priest states: ‘Body of Colin Farrell’. At the end of the scene the camera zooms in on the ‘chalice’, which is shown to contain ‘viagra’. The Eucharist is central to the Catholic Faith, a sacrament. In common with all religious beliefs, sacraments should be treated with respect. However, in this particular scene, the Eucharist was treated in a totally disrespectful manner. The Commission was of the view that the scene was likely to be offensive to people of particular religious beliefs. Such treatment of any religious belief is inappropriate. The manner in which a sacrament was used for a laugh in this section of the programme went beyond acceptable standards. The Commission was of the opinion that it was offensive. The complaint was upheld with reference to Section 24(2)(b)(taste & decency, pursuant to RTÉ’s ‘Programme-Makers’ Guidelines’).
The Irish Times report quotes a RTÉ spokeswoman:
However, a spokeswoman for the station said yesterday that the station now accepted the view of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission that the scene was offensive to people of particular religious beliefs. She added that the station would issue an apology in a matter of weeks.