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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 27, 2010

Singer: Pope should resign, confess truth

 •  Ex-priest defends Darwin


By Henry Chu
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Sinead O'Connor

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BRAY, Ireland She shot to fame 20 years ago with her shaved head, chiseled cheeks and haunting rendition of the song "Nothing Compares 2 U." Then she gained notoriety when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on American TV, calling him "the enemy" and urging people to fight child abuse.

Sinead O'Connor is still singing. And still speaking out against abuse. And now her 1992 stunt on "Saturday Night Live" almost seems prescient as the Roman Catholic Church faces a growing catalog of complaints about child sexual and physical assault by priests in her Irish homeland and across Europe.

Such mistreatment was rampant here in Ireland, going back decades. By 1987, the Irish church was alarmed enough that it took out an insurance policy against future lawsuits and compensation claims involving sexual-abuse allegations.

Pope Benedict XVI issued a "pastoral letter" last week apologizing to the flock in Ireland for the church's past failures. He did not outline any disciplinary action against the bishops who many here say covered up priestly misdeeds, though on Wednesday he accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee, who has been accused of failing to report suspected pedophile priests to police. The pope also pinned no blame on the Vatican itself for a culture of secrecy that critics say it deliberately fostered.

O'Connor, now 43 and a mother of four, spoke Tuesday at her seaside home in Bray, south of Dublin, about the abuse scandal.

Q. Do you feel the pope's letter was enough?

Q. As a cardinal, the pope wrote an order in 2001 demanding that abuse cases be dealt with in secret. But doesn't the directive also mention cooperating with civil authorities?

(It's true that) it's the first time ever that any document coming from the Vatican actually does say to the clergy that they should cooperate with civil authorities ... What I object to here is, the first time they said that was 2001. They knew back in 1987 at least that this was an issue. ... They knew so much that they took out an insurance policy.

Q. So what should the pope do?

Q. What about the abuse victims?

You're talking about some very broken people. ... Life is very difficult for them. They can't hold down jobs, can't hold down relationships. ... They need the Vatican to cough up some of its billions (to) pay for these people to be able to live their lives.

Q. Should Irish bishops resign, as a few have offered?

Q. What should the Irish people do?

The way we are at the moment, we're in a very dysfunctional relationship with an organization that's actually abusing us. And we can't see what's being done to us. We have the mentality of a battered wife who thinks it's her fault.