A mock news report on a New Year’s Eve countdown programme said God was “the latest figure” to be implicated in “ongoing sexual harassment scandals”.
The news reader added: “The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young Middle Eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will before being sentenced to two years in prison, with the last 24 months suspended”.
The sketch showed an old man dressed as “God” being led away by a garda and shouting: “It was 2,000 years ago.”
Catholic leaders swiftly condemned the sketch. Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin tweeted his shock that the makers of the show “didn’t realise how deeply offensive was” the mocking ‘news report’.
He added: “This outrageous clip should be removed immediately and denounced. To broadcast such a deeply offensive and blasphemous clip about God and our blessed mother Mary during the Christmas season . . . is insulting to all Catholics and Christians.”
Archbishop-elect of Dublin Dermot Farrell said he was “deeply disturbed” by the segment and a “discourse which fails to respect the victims of all ages and genders of this most degrading of crimes has not any place in our world.”
In a statement, the broadcaster acknowledged that some viewers were offended by the sketch and said that around 1,100 complaints have been received so far.
It said: “RTÉ recognises that matters which can cause offence naturally differ from person to person, within comedy and satire in particular.
“Having reviewed the feedback and complaints received up to this point, RTÉ wishes to apologise to those who were offended by the segment.
The clip will not be removed from the RTÉ Player, but a warning will be attached to the footage to advise viewers that the material may cause offence.