A County Kerry priest has insisted he is not urging Catholics to stop paying their TV licence fees – despite labelling a scene in Sunday’s Fair City “totally disrespectful and inaccurate.”
The scene involved one of the show’s lead characters invoking the Seal of Confession to tell a priest that he is the father of her child.
Actors Tina Kellegher (who plays the character Ger) and Phelim Drew (who plays Father Liam) are also drinking and smoking in the scene which takes place in a Church.
'Totally disrespectful and inaccurate'
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Fr Kevin McNamara, parish priest of Moyvane in north Kerry, said he had no problem with the story – but insisted it was “totally disrespectful and inaccurate” to tie it in with Seal of Confession.
“As a matter of interest, even in lockdown, on that Sunday I was at it from 2pm to 5pm. I was in the carpark, social distancing in a big carpark in front of the church here in Moyvane, here in North Kerry, hearing confessions,” he said.
“To come in on Sunday night and to see the blatant, casual and disrespectful way the confession was treated – taking place in a church with alcohol, cigarettes and a stole being put on, I felt it just couldn’t be more hurtful or blatant to the Catholic tradition.”
He said he also “strongly objects” to the part of the scene where Ger “gets aggressive and starts questioning” Liam.
“That is not the way confession works,” he said. “Confession has to have an attitude at heart where you come, you express sorrow and a willingness to change and that was totally missing.”
He said the show’s of the word confession was “totally inappropriately and wrong” adding, “that was what hurt me very, very, very much.”
“Of course, we are a human Church. We have made loads and loads of mistakes and I would be the first to put my hand up,” he said.
“But I am trying my level best and again there are many priests like myself who try our level best to bring the sacraments to people and then, in a few moments of glib television …
“This is not the first time with Fair City either. They had a story line some years ago about the priest breaking the seal of confession - which never happens. They seem to have learned nothing and then they give us this episode last Sunday night.
Father McNamara rejected reports this morning that he was urging Catholics to stop paying their TV licence fees over the scene, insisting he was, ‘misquoted in the paper.’
“I posed the question,” he said. “The question I would pose – and I would pose it to your listeners this morning – is, why should Catholics continue to pay their TV licence to a station which continually and deliberately shows a lack of knowledge and respect for Catholic faith and sacred doctrine?