THE ASSOCIATION OF Catholic Priests has issued a statement accusing sections of the media of ”anti-Catholic and anti-priest bias” in the wake of the Fr. Kevin Reynolds case.
RTÉ was forced to apologise to the priest after he was accused in the Prime Time programme of raping a teenage girl while he worked as a missionary in Africa in the eighties, and of fathering a child with the girl.
RTÉ accepted that the allegations were baseless, without any foundation and were untrue. The broadcaster also paid undisclosed damages to Fr Reynolds.
The Association of Catholic Priests has said that the Primetime incident, along with results of a survey commissioned by the Iona Institute points towards media bias among sections of the media, “including some in the national broadcaster”.
The group has also said that it was disappointed by the way RTÉ’s statement and apology was broadcast on television and radio, citing “poor quality delivery” which “seemed to imply a lack of sincerity about the content”.
The treatment of Catholic issues in general by the media are also criticised in the statement, which details that critics of the Church are allowed free reign, while Church representatives are aggressively questioned and harassed. Church protocols in dealing with the handling of allegations about priests are also under scrutiny by the group:
If RTÉ can be criticised for not waiting a few weeks until such time as Kevin Reynolds had a chance to clear his name by taking the paternity test, as he had offered to do, surely the Church authorities should have been equally circumspect about any action that could be seen to imply guilt on his part.
Robert Dore, the solicitor who represented Fr Reynolds spoke to RTÉ today and said he was very interested to know who the “reliable independent third party source” was, who allegedly provided information about the case. He said that Fr Reynold has a right to know who it is.
Dore also said that the premise of journalistic confidentiality is flawed in this case, and also said that once RTÉ had realised that they were wrong they behaved very well, but behaved appallingly before that. He cited their decision to broadcast the material despite the offer of a paternity test and repeated denials.