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IrishCentral editors received an email last night from Irish singer Sinead O'Connor — who once infamously ripped a photo of Pope John Paul II on "Saturday Night Live" in a bizarre protest against the Catholic Church — in which she rips into the Church again, and with seething rage.
In the email, which longtime Irish Voice music writer Mike Farragher verified is genuine in a telephone call with the star, O'Connor, 49, says she speaks "on behalf of all Irish artists" in protest against the child and sex-abuse scandal in which the Irish Catholic Church is currently embroiled.
As angry as her "letter to the editor" is, O'Connor went even farther in her conversation this morning with Farragher.
“I feel strongly that we are proud of our faith and feel completely betrayed,” she told him. “They are withholding documents still. When they are asked to produce anything, there has been no reply, not even a refusal.
"'The Pope does not comment on these matters’ is what they say. That has made people even angrier. There is talk about calling for a boycott of Mass next Sunday. It will send a message if no one is in the pews. There is also talk about having the Irish ambassador withdrawn from the Vatican.
“In 1987, the Church took out an insurance policy against being sued — 23 years before they are admitting things happened today. They knew this report was coming back in May, yet no one had the conscience to resign on their own or get to work and fix things.”
The Church child-abuse scandal, of course, is no longer a whisper on the margins of public opinion. Government agencies, independent commissions, the Irish Police, and the Church itself have uncovered incontrovertible evidence of massive child and sex abuse over decades at Church-run schools and institutions, as well as a systematic cover-up of the abuse — and protection of the perpetrators — by the highest officials in the Irish Church. The resignation of several Church officials is imminent.
O'Connor's email letter stays on the attack from the outset. It appears below in its entirety, with any spelling or grammatical errors uncorrected:
I am sending this in the hope that it will be printed in your letters page. Should you wish to contact me to confirm this letter is from me I can be contacted at (redacted).
On behalf of all irish artists.. Though most have kept their mouth shut.. I demand the irish government expel the papal nuncio and recall the Irish ambassador from the vatican city in order to respect the people of ireland who are outraged by the contempt displayed by the vatican for the suffering endured by survivors of clerical abuse and for the people of ireland in general.
I demand also the pope himself stand down for his contemptible silence on the matter and his acts of non cooperation with the enquiry.
Popes have had no problem voicing their opinions when we wanted contraception or divorce. No problem criticising the da vinci code. No problem declaring harry potter books as evil. No problem criticising naomi campbell for wearing a bejewelled cross.. Yet when it comes to the evils done by paedophiles dressed as priests they are silent. It is grotesque.. Unbelievable.. Bizarre and unprecedented. They stand for nothing now but evil. And our ancestors gave up anything that would have given them a moments joy.. Because they believed these liars.
They have brought catholicism and the idea of God into direpute. We need to take back the church.. Which is OURS.. Not theirs. They are not fit to call themselves representatives of christ. They represent nothing but evil any more.
They never believed that God was watching. And they still act as though they don't think God is watching.. But every one of them will have to meet their maker in the end.. Even the pope himself. And if I were them I would be very afraid.
I also demand that brian cowan step down for his having no testicles in the matter. He has no clue what irish people want. He should stand down and admit he has behaved in this matter as a coward.
Sinead o connor.
O'Connor's "SNL" appearance was just one of many shifts in the performer's personal and professional life. The Oct. 3, 1992 incident came while she was singing Bob Marley's "War," which she adapted into a protest over the Catholic Church scandal by changing the lyric "racism" to "child abuse." She then held up a photo of Pope John Paul II to the cameras while singing the word "evil," after which she tore the photo into pieces, said "Fight the real enemy," and threw the pieces toward the audience.
"Saturday Night Live" producers did not know of her plans in advance, As part of their apology during the next show, host Joe Pesci held up the photo, explaining that he had taped it back together, which drew applause. Pesci also said that if it had been his show, "I would have gave her such a smack."
In a 1997 interview, O'Connor asked the Pope to forgive her. She claimed that the tearing of the photo was "a ridiculous act, the gesture of a girl rebel." She claimed she did it "because I was in rebellion against the faith, but I was still within the faith."
She went on to quote St. Augustine: "Anger is the first step toward courage." However, O'Connor remained unrepentant about the incident. In a 2002 interview with Salon.com, when asked if she would change anything about the "SNL" appearance, she replied, "Hell, no!"
O'Connor's formidable fan base held on through the controversy — as well as other smaller volcanic eruptions such as her "ordination" as a priest and her announcement that she is a lesbian — although she said in a later interview that she is "three-quarters heterosexual, a quarter gay." On "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2007, O'Connor disclosed that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder four years earlier, and had attempted suicide on her 33rd birthday.
The Glenageary (County Dublin) native has been married twice and has four children.
O'Connor has released many highly praised, best-selling albums — before and after the "SNL" debacle — and remains a very popular concert performer as well.