Sinead O'Connor defended her controversial actions in tearing up of a photo of the Pope on national television in a passionate letter sent Friday to more than a dozen U.S. and British news organizations.
"The only reason I ever opened my mouth to sing was so that I tell my story and have it heard . . . ," she said in the letter, a copy of which was sent to The Times. "My story is the story of countless millions of children whose families and nations were torn apart in the name of Jesus Christ."
Elaine Schock, the Irish singer's publicist, said O'Connor had planned to explain her actions in a press conference Friday in London, where O'Connor now lives. But the singer feared that the press session would turn into a "media circus" and decided to send the "open letter" to the news media instead, Schock said.
The letter comes three weeks after O'Connor tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on the Oct. 3 telecast of NBC's "Saturday Night Live." Various Roman Catholic organizations and hundreds of viewers protested the act, which was done without NBC's prior knowledge or approval.
Last Friday, O'Connor was, in effect, booed off the stage at a nationally televised Bob Dylan tribute concert at New York's Madison Square Garden, an apparent reaction to the Pope controversy.
In the letter, O'Connor, who identifies herself as a Christian, continues to explain her belief that such wrongs as child abuse--including abuse she says she suffered--can be traced to the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church.
It's a message that she includes as a closing "poem" on her latest album, "Am I Not Your Girl?"
O'Connor was planning to do a brief U.S. tour in late November to showcase material from the album, which features various songs that have influenced her over the years. But Schock said she has postponed the tour, not wanting to appear to be using the controversy to promote the album.
Here is the complete O'Connor letter:
My name is Sinead O'Connor. I am an Irish woman. And I am an abused child. The only reason I ever opened my mouth to sing was so that I tell my story and have it heard.
The cause of my abuse is the history of my people, whose identity and culture were taken away from them by the British with full permission from The "Holy" Roman Empire. Which they gave for money and in the name of Jesus Christ.
The only hope for me as an abused child was to look back into my childhood and face some very difficult memories and some desperately painful feelings and a lot of very tricky conversations! I had to have it acknowledged what was done to me so that I could forgive and be free.
So, it has occurred to me that the only hope of recovery for my people is to look back into our history. Face some very difficult truths and some very frightening feelings. It must be acknowledged what was done to us so we can forgive and be free.
If the truth remains hidden then the brutality under which I grew up will continue for thousands of Irish children. And I must by any means necessary WITHOUT the use of violence prevent that happening because I am a Christian.
Child abuse is the highest manifestation of evil. It is the root and effect of every addiction. Its presence in a society shows that there is not contact with God. And God is truth to me.
The Catholic Church have controlled us by controlling education. Through their teachings on sexuality, marriage, birth control and abortion. And most spectacularly through the lies they taught us with their history books.
The story of my people is the story of the African people, the Jewish people, the Amer-Indian people, the South American people.
My story is the story of countless millions of children whose families and nations were torn apart for money in the name of Jesus Christ.
God IS Truth.
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