Being a Catholic these days can feel like being stuck in an episode of 'Father Ted'
Compiled by JENNIFER O'CONNELL
The Catholic Church has written to RTÉ to complain about a sketch featured in the new Mario Rosenstock TV show.
Martin Long from the Catholic Communications Office said the sketch on last week’s show – which featured a man spitting into a bucket in the manner of a boxer, before receiving communion – ridiculed “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.” In response, Rosenstock accused the church of trying to “[tell] RTÉ what they can and cannot show”.
That’s not entirely fair – it is possible to see how devout Catholics might have found the sketch offensive and, of course, the communications office is within its rights to complain on their behalf.
At the same time, though, when it comes to making the church look ridiculous, you could argue that the hierarchy itself is doing a better job than any comedian. Being a Catholic these days is a bit like finding yourself trapped in a neverending episode of Father Ted, without the funny bits.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are the pope and you’re about to write the book which – as you head into your 86th year – could even be your last. What issue would you feel compelled to tackle?
Would you plump for declining Mass attendance? Would you tackle the issues of reproductive choice, or of women priests? Or maybe you would opt to explore gay marriage, or the child sex abuse crisis currently rocking Australia?
No, of course you wouldn’t; not when there are urgent theological issues to be determined.
Pope Benedict XVI latest book has prompted a rash of “Pope bans Christmas”-type headlines. Although Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives is a proper theological study and the third in the pope’s series on the life of Christ, certain media have seized on a handful of statements within the book: that there is no evidence to state that there were any cattle, donkeys or other livestock present on the night of Jesus’s birth; and that he may not have been born on December 25th, 0000, but several years earlier.
The Vatican has pointed out that these are minor points in an otherwise serious work that attempts to put the life of Christ into a historical context and to remind Catholics of his message. But worthwhile as this may be, I’d question whether theological discussion is really the best use of the pope’s time.