RTÉ HAS apologies for broadcasting a comedy sketch on New Year’s Eve that depicted God as a “rapist”.
It comes after the satirical skit drew criticism from senior figures in the Irish Catholic Church.
The sketch, which was produced by the team behind the popular spoof website Waterford Whispers, featured a man in white robes being led to court.
Ex-broadcaster Aengus Mac Grianna can be heard explaining in voiceover: “In another shocking revelation this year, God became the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals.
“The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young middle-eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will.
“He was sentenced to two years in prison with the last 24 months suspended.”
The gag drew criticism from the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin who hit out at RTE for broadcasting the gag.
Archbishop Martin said: “I am shocked that producer/editor of NYE Countdown Show didn’t realise how deeply offensive was a mocking news report accusing God of rape and reporting his imprisonment.
“This outrageous clip should be removed immediately and denounced by all people of goodwill.
“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.”
The Association of Catholic Priests also expressed dismay at what it viewed as a “very offensive portrayal of the God whom Christians worship".
In a statement, the ACP said "The portrayal of God as a rapist is deeply offensive. In light of such provocative insensitivity, the ACP would like RTÉ to commit to a review of their polices and approaches to reporting on the Christian faith, and to make the results and relevant recommendations open to public review."
RTÉ has now issued an apology after receiving more than 600 complaints over the sketch.
In a statement, a spokesman for the broadcaster 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 formal complaints received by RTÉ are being entered into our complaints system and will be responded to in accordance with the relevant statutory process.”
Despite the furore that has greeted the sketch, it is understood that the clip will not be removed from the version of the New Year’s Eve show available to watch on RTÉ Player.
Instead, the footage will feature a warning noting that the show features material that may cause offence.