Broadcasting the Angelus


Sir, – I am no cheerleader for the Catholic Church or Catholicism but I cannot but be struck by Donald Clarke’s article in Saturday’s Weekend Review and his failure to distinguish between the two (“Why do we still broadcast the Angelus bongs?”, March 18th).

If the majority of Irish want to seize church lands, that is an understandable response to the horrific abuses heaped on our people by a corrupted church administration.

If the majority want to retain the Angelus, that is because the majority see the value in what is a fundamentally decent religion and a cultural definer more profound than green beer and shamrock.

To follow Donald Clarke’s logic, we should ban soccer from our TVs because of the regular financial, moral and sexual scandals attached to its administration. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.

Sir, – Donald Clarke shows a complete misunderstanding of the relationship that many Irish people have with the Catholic Church. RTÉ is a public service broadcaster. In the most recent census, a significant majority of the population identified themselves as Catholics. Devoting four minutes per day to allow those who want to do so to reflect on their beliefs can hardly be regarded as excessive. BBC Radio 4 gives at least 15 minutes every day to Church of England services.

Why has Donald Clarke failed to address why the survey he himself quotes shows a majority in favour of retaining the Angelus? Perhaps it is because, like many critics of the Catholic Church, he fails to see to that a loss of confidence in the institutions and leadership does not amount to abandonment of belief in the core message of Christianity. RTÉ’s broadcasting of the Angelus is not, as your columnist claims, an attempt to represent Ireland as a Catholic country. Rather it reflects the fact that many people in Ireland attend Catholic services every week and have a right to have that belief system reflected in the public broadcaster’s schedule, if only for four minutes a day. –Yours, etc,


Dublin 9.

Sir, – The transmission of Angelus bongs on the television without text subtitles for the hard of hearing is in violation of accessibility commitments to the entire RTÉ audience. At the very least, a priest holding a series of placards with the word “Bong!” on them should be shown.

I have no idea how the hard of hearing might be accommodated in an equivalent way by the radio broadcast of the Angelus, however, other than by not broadcasting the Angelus to any of us in the first place. Indeed, this seems like an optimal course of action across all media. – Yours, etc,