To the Washington Post, it seemed like a natural progression. Pope Benedict apologized for priest sexual abuse found in Ireland, so the Post found Ireland's greatest Pope-hater for rebuttal: singer Sinead O'Connor, who infamously ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in 1992 and said "Fight the real enemy."
The headline is "Time to hear Pope Benedict's confession." Catholics don't believe the pope is sinless, and he certainly goes to confession regularly. But it's odd for the Post to put O'Connor in the actress role of outraged Catholic -- instead of radical feminist scold. She accused him of blasphemy, and urged the Irish to stop going to church:
To Irish Catholics, Benedict's implication -- Irish sexual abuse is an Irish problem -- is both arrogant and blasphemous. The Vatican is acting as though it doesn't believe in a God who watches. The very people who say they are the keepers of the Holy Spirit are stamping all over everything the Holy Spirit truly is. Benedict criminally misrepresents the God we adore. We all know in our bones that the Holy Spirit is truth. That's how we can tell that Christ is not with these people who so frequently invoke Him.
Irish Catholics are in a dysfunctional relationship with an abusive organization. The pope must take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates. If Catholic priests are abusing children, it is Rome, not Dublin, that must answer for it with a full confession and in a criminal investigation. Until it does, all good Catholics -- even little old ladies who go to church every Sunday, not just protest singers like me whom the Vatican can easily ignore -- should avoid Mass. In Ireland, it is time we separated our God from our religion, and our faith from its alleged leaders.
Late in the article, O'Connor brought up her Pope-tearing incident, and tried to spin it this way:
I knew my action would cause trouble, but I wanted to force a conversation where there was a need for one; that is part of being an artist. All I regretted was that people assumed I didn't believe in God. That's not the case at all. I'm Catholic by birth and culture and would be the first at the church door if the Vatican offered sincere reconciliation.
That "first at the church door" image does not exactly match her real approach to religion. O'Connor's website spotlights a 2003 interview:
But in the past few years, apart from a few blips (like declaring herself a lesbian and being ordained into the priesthood), O'Connor has been in the unusual position of maintaining a fairly low profile.
'I think I feel the same way about religion as I do about rescuing the songs from the trad-heads,' she agrees. 'I believe in rescuing God from religion. Religion has God held hostage and hidden behind bars. If God were alive he or she would be suing a lot of people for libel.' As for her ordination, she says her being a priest is a very private thing between her and the holy spirit. Most people will remember it as a very public affair however. 'It was too exciting not to make a bit of mischief. It would have been more honest to have just got on about my business, which is what I do now.' Despite being a Catholic and a priest, she tries to explain that she is first and foremost a Rastafarian. 'It was a Rastafarian act to have myself ordained.'
O'Connor is full of these sort of contradictions and has been known to change her mind about things she has said in the past. When asked is she a lesbian, she falters, then says: 'Well, I guess, what I am is ... it's hard to explain. I don't believe there's any such thing as gay or straight. You fall in love with someone. It's about the spirit and the soul.
O'Connor also claims to have been physically abused, but doesn't suggest who did it. What's very clear is that she doesn't believe in "organized religion," so she shouldn't be painted by the media as a faithful church member.
To make sure readers know how much they dislike the Pope, the Post also posted video with the O'Connor piece: Allen Pizzey's CBS story from Friday morning that insists "how much trouble" the Pope is in.