Controversy Over Use of the Angelus In Irish Broadcasting

ARMAGH, Ireland—For over 50 years the Angelus bells have been broadcast twice a day, at noon and 6pm, on Ireland's national radio and television service RTE, but its future was called into doubt recently when the Anglican primate of Ireland, Archbishop Robin Eames of Armagh, reportedly called for the broadcasts to cease.

In a magazine interview, the archbishop was quoted saying that in some quarters the broadcasting of the Angelus by RTE was seen as a sectarian act that excluded Protestants. He later said he had been misquoted, but a controversy ensued.

Within the RTE organization there are many who are hostile to the twice daily pealing of the bells on air. One radio presenter, Pat Kenny, refuses to use the term ‘Angelus’ when introducing the noon bells, instead using the formula ‘we now pause for prayer.’ On one famous occasion, a studio guest, Labor politician Michael Higgins, became furious when he had to be interrupted to allow the noon broadcast of the Angelus. At the time, Higgins was claiming that Ireland was a Church—dominated society. (Cian Molloy)

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