Catholic Leaders Get an Angry Sermon
The Age [Vatican City]
December 16, 2003
US hip-hop singer Lauryn Hill stunned leading members of the Roman Catholic Church when she accused them of moral corruption, exploitation and abuse during a Christmas concert at the Vatican.
Hill launched her diatribe in front of an audience of 7500 guests at a packed Paul VI hall, used by Pope John Paul II for indoor public audiences.
"I'm not here to celebrate, like you, the birth of Christ, but to ask you why you are not in mourning for his death in this place," Hill said, reading from a prepared statement as she came on stage for her performance as part of an all-star gala concert.
"Holy God has witnessed the corruption of your leadership, of the exploitation and abuses, which are the minimum that can be said for the clergy," she added, calling on the hierarchy to "repent".
Stunned officials in the front row at Saturday night's concert included one of the most senior figures in the church, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, head of the Italian bishops conference.
An aide to Cardinal Ruini, Bishop Rino Fisichella, described Hill's speech as "a rash outburst, an uneducated act showing a lack of respect for the place in which she was a guest and for those who had invited her".
The Holy See has been widely accused of failing to respond adequately to a pedophile scandal involving priests, particularly in the United States where the church has been under fire over the policy of some archdioceses of moving known child-abusing priests from parish to parish over decades.
Hill, a former member of the Fugees and winner of five Grammy Awards, said she was not speaking as a representative of any religious organisation.
Italian press reports said her attack was unlikely to be included when the concert is broadcast on Italian television on Christmas Eve.
Other artists performing at the event, now in its 11th year, included Ronan Keating, Khaled, Randy Crawford, Solomon Burke, Kelly Joyce, Polish singer Natalia Kukulska and American gospel and Italian choirs.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.