Burn it down: Sinead O'Connor on the Vatican
by Karl Quinn
AUSTRALIA'S first saint is destined to become a cult figure in Ireland, Sinead O'Connor has predicted.
''Mary MacKillop is going to become a very important figure, I'd say, because she f---ing shopped a paedophile priest,'' the Irish singer told The Age yesterday. ''She was way ahead of her time. She withstood the persecution [of the church authorities who excommunicated her]. She was brave enough to stand up to them.''
Although there's been some debate about the precise role MacKillop played in reporting the sexual abuse by a South Australian priest in 1870, there's no doubting O'Connor's commitment to the cause. She's been standing up for the victims of such abuse for decades, and in 1992 famously tore up a photo of the then Pope on Saturday Night Live to protest against the Vatican's complicity in covering up paedophilia in the ranks.
Though that unforgettable gesture brought a sudden end to her American career, she has no regrets and no intention of letting up.
''I call them the Vatican't,'' said O'Connor, who is in Australia to perform just once, at this Saturday's Melbourne Festival closing concert Seven Songs to Leave Behind. ''It's a nest of devils that's run by people with no respect for God or children or the rest of us.''
The Pope and the top tier of the church should step down immediately, she said. ''And after they step down they should present themselves at their local police stations and ask to be prosecuted.''
After that, she said, ''we should burn the f---ing Vatican to the ground, frankly, and I know if Jesus was here that's exactly what would be happening''.
There's a misconception that O'Connor is anti-Catholic, but in fact she's fiercely spiritual, and in 1999 was ordained a priest of a breakaway Catholic order.
''I'm someone who really believes in the Holy Spirit, whatever you want to call it - f---ing Allah or Daisy or Fred - and I don't like to see that spirit being misrepresented to the point where people are horrified to even think of the 'G' word,'' she said.
There will, naturally enough, be elements of spirituality and protest in the seven songs O'Connor will sing on Saturday as part of a line-up that also includes Rickie Lee Jones and John Cale. Among them is Bob Dylan's Serve Somebody (a late replacement for another Dylan song, Idiot Wind, because ''I just remembered a few days ago it's my favourite''), Curtis Mayfield's Fool for You (''the most perfect record ever made''), Bob Marley's Ride Natty Ride (the song she wants played at her funeral), and L7's Shitlist(''it's all about arseholes, really'').
It's a song selection likely to irritate and to please in equal parts - and where O'Connor is concerned you'd be mad to expect anything less.
O'Connor's trip is a flying visit, but she's made time to see the family of her new husband, Steve Cooney, a former member of Red Gum.
They first met when she was 14, when he produced an album for which she'd written a song. Twenty years later, they met again, and became friendly. For seven or eight years he's played guitar in her band, but the romance only started around June. In July, they tied the knot.
Seven Songs to Leave Behind is at the Myer Music Bowl on Saturday, from 7.30pm. melbournefestival.com.au
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