Catholic priest organization slams Irish media bias
Association critical of RTE over handling of Missionary’s paternity libel case
The Association of Catholic Priests has accused Irish state broadcaster RTE and sections of the media of a bias against the Church and the clergy.
The ACP made the claims in a statement issued in reaction to RTE’s recent libellous claims that a missionary priest raped a teenage girl in Africa and left her pregnant.
Fr Kevin Reynolds, now based in Galway, won over $1.5million in libel damages after the claims were broadcast on the Prime Time Investigates TV show.
He was forced to undergo a paternity test and take RTE to court before the station backed down on the claims relating to his time as a missionary in Kenya.
ACP spokesperson Fr Seán McDonagh criticised RTE’s "failure to operate normal editorial controls" in the making of the programme.
The ACP statement also referred to a recent survey which indicated that over half of all Irish adults believe one in five priests is guilty of child abuse.
The statement from the ACP said: “Some months ago, in the aftermath of the Prime Time programme ‘Mission to Prey’ one of our members, Kevin Reynolds, who was featured in that programme, came to us stating that he had been grievously libelled by the programme, that he was out of ministry and that his good name had been destroyed.
“He was looking for someone who would support his efforts to make right the injustice committed against him, and since no Church authority seemed willing to do so, he asked if we could help him.
“Some time previously a legal team had offered their services to us; but since we are a new association with very little money, they kindly agreed to work for us pro bono. So we were able to take on the defence of our colleague.
“The rest of the story relating to the case of Kevin Reynolds is now in the public domain. But we as the Association of Catholic Priests would like to make clear some of the issues that we feel are raised by this case.”
The statement then made the following points:
“We think it is now clear, both from the way the Prime Time programme was produced and presented, and also from the results of the survey commissioned by the Iona Institute regarding attitudes of people towards priests, that there is a serious anti-Catholic and anti-priest bias among sections of the media, including some in the national broadcaster, and that this had led to a one-sided and unfair presentation of issues to do with Church and clergy in recent years.
“We were disappointed by the way the statement of correction and apology was presented by RTE on television and radio after the completion of the case. Reading it quickly and with poor quality delivery seemed almost to imply a lack of sincerity about the content.
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