RTE apologises if offence caused by 'haunted bread' remark by Rubberbandits

Moyvane priest intends to proceed with complaint to BAI

Anne Sheridan

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Anne Sheridan

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anne.sheridan@limerickleader.ie

RTE apologises if offence caused by 'haunted bread' remark by Rubberbandits

'Everyone at Midnight Mass is half-cut anyway': Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubberbandits made the remark

THE PRODUCER of The Late Late Show has apologised to those who were offended when the Eucharist was referred to as “haunted bread” by one half of the Limerick comic duo, the Rubberbandits.

Fr Kevin McNamara, parish priest in Moyvane, north Kerry, said that he still intends to file a complaint with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in relation to that segment of the show on January 6, which he described as “blasphemous”.

Fr McNamara, who said the comments made by Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubberbandits were “downright shameful and hurtful”, is “disappointed” with the response he has received from The Late Late Show.

The outspoken cleric circulated some of the responses he received from Larry Masterson, executive producer of The Late Late Show, in the Moyvane parish newsletter at the weekend.

Mr Masterson said that while the phrase was “certainly provocative”, he does not believe that it was “sacrilegious”, but “a linguistic phrase”. 

“Nonetheless, I accept that the phrase ‘haunted bread’ has caused offence to some viewers and has been seen by some as disrespectful or mocking and for that I apologise,” wrote Mr Masterson in an email to Fr McNamara, thanking him for sending his views.

He said Blindboy’s concept was further supported by Stefanie Preissner’s assertion that growing up she was conflicted about eating the literal “Body of Christ”.

“In neither case did the guests deride or criticise the views of others, or their faith, but rather expressed their own difficulty with a core tenet of Roman Catholicism,” said Mr Masterson.

Fr McNamara said that he does not feel that The Late Late Show has adequately dealt with his concerns, and he will now take his complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. 

In the show, Blindboy Boatclub said that young people attending Midnight Mass at Christmas were “not going there for haunted bread”, adding that “everyone at Midnight Mass is half-cut anyway.”

“I am disappointed with the response from The Late Late Show to my complaint referring to the blasphemous treatment of Holy Eucharist on the recent show,” said Mr McNamara.

“During that show, presenter Ryan Tubridy enthusiastically endorsed the term 'haunted bread'. I would expect any presenter to display an unbiased view, and not to endorse any personal views expressed by guests on the show,” wrote Fr McNamara to his parishioners.

In Mr Masterson’s response to Mr McNamara, he clarified that as part of the conversation, Tubridy, brought up a theory advanced on his radio show earlier that week that some people in their 30s are returning to the Catholic Church after a period of difficulty and scandal for the church.  

“In attempting to hear new voices on the Late Late Show, it is inevitable that some will not like what they hear.  Uncomfortable or unpopular opinions are part of debate as are views that clash or disagree with mainstream consensus,” wrote Mr Masterson.

Among those who support Fr McNamara is Fr Joe Young, formerly parish priest in Limerick's estate of Southill, who described the comments as “totally offensive”.

“Everybody should respect everybody's faith, regardless of what it is. When I give Communion to anyone who comes up in front of me, I believe I am giving the food of Christ, and that's what I have given my life to," said the chaplain with the Brothers of Charity in Bawnmore, Limerick.

Fr McNamara said that while he is not a fan in general of the Rubberbandits' work, he believes them to be “gifted and talented”, and admired the song which shot them to stardom - Horse Outside.

“I was annoyed and hurt. I have given 35 years to the priesthood that I firmly believe in. I don't think the national broadcasting station is the place to ridicule it and make little of it.

“If people want to view Communion as ‘haunted bread’ fine, but they should respect those of us who view it as the bread of life, and as a contact with Jesus Christ,” he said.

He continued: “We have feelings as well, and we're being continually beaten down due to past failings and faults. There isn't one organisation in the whole world that hasn't made mistakes, and we're trying to rectify them as best we can.

During the show, Blindboy Boatclub went on to argue that the Church “does not want us to use critical thinking” and is “asking us to eat the ghost of a 2,000-year-old carpenter”.