Thursday 27 July 2023

Sinead was right to tear up a picture of the Pope

RIP Sinead O'Connor. I only really spoke to her once. She was good mates of Boz and Lyn Boorer, who are great friends of mine. I'd love to share some stunning revealation or insight, but all I can really say was she was a bit shy, nice to chat to and perhaps surprisingly funny. It was a very long time ago, before she had become a controversial figure. At the time I'd never have predicted the way her career would develop. In some ways, I find it rather sad that the two things she'll be remembered for was her cover of a Prince song and tearing up a picture of the Pope on Primetime TV. Whilst Nothing Compares to you is a stunning version, and it is very hard to own a Prince song, there was so much more to her music than that song. She was an accomplished song writer and very deep thinker. Sinead also realised the value of shock and the necessity for it on occasion.

When she tore up the Pope's picture on TV, as she sang the word Evil, she alienated many Catholics who had admired her as an Interenationally well known Irish singer. They were simply not ready to accept that there were serious abuse issues withing the Church. It was an incredibly brave action to take. It took the Vatican nine years to admit that there was a child abuse scandal in the church. Like Sinead, I was born and raised a Roman Catholic. For all of us, the scandal has been a something shocking beyond belief. Unlike Sinead, my journey has not ended with alienation. I can still see enough positive things in the church and enough good people to persevere, but Sinead was 100% right to make her statement. She felt so strongly about the issue and she know she was right. She could have sat back and taken the easy path, let the money roll in and have a comfortable life. She never did.

Like many artists, Sinead was a sensitive soul, who saw things for what they really were. She felt the need to call out what she saw as wrongs and injustice. Of all the injustices, sexual abuse of minors, especially by those in positions of authority is perhaps the greatest. Sexual predators who prey on the vulnerable, purely to satisfy their own sadistic and controlling urges are the worst. Sinead saw this and used her platform to smack them all in the face. Tearing up the Pope's picture was a shock, but events have proven that she was right to take the stand. The church still hasn't fully faced up to it's responsibilities. If Sinead hadn't taken her stand, I believe they'd have made even less progress. I know of no Catholic who doesn't want to see the Church become what it should be, an open and honest organisation, where predators cannot hide and which fights for social justice and peace. 

I was devastated to learn of Sinead's death. When I thought about it, I imagined another, parallel world, where the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland was what is should have always been. A force for justice, where all of the Priests mission was for the good of their flock, rather than the institution they belong to. Where those that were predators were made to atone properly for their sins in courts of law and where abuse was not tolerated. In that world, Sinead would have been a successful singer, without the demons that I believe she battled all of her life. 

Like Sinead, I believe in an afterlife. If there is such a place as heaven, I believe that Sinead O'Conner will be one of the Angels who's music will grace us when we join her. A strange thought occurred to me, in some ways, Sinead was almost a modern day Joan of Arc.  A fierce warrior for justice, at the same time too passionate and too delicate for this world. When people pass, we say Rest in Peace. I can think of no one, those words are more appropriate for than Sinead. This is how I want to remember her.

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