Tuesday, December 16, 2003

...and she's got big balls!

Lauryn Hill disses the Catholic Church while performing at a Christmas concert-- IN THE VATICAN! What'd she say?

US hip-hop singer Lauryn Hill stunned leading members of the Roman Catholic Church when she accused them of moral corruption, exploitation and abuse from the stage during a Christmas concert at the Vatican.

Hill, 28, launched her diatribe in front of an audience of 7,500 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 a[n] 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 hierarchy in the front row at Saturday night's concert included one of the most senior figures in the Church, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who is head of the Italian bishops conference.

An aide to Ruini, Bishop Rino Fisichella, described the singer's speech as "a rash outburst. An uneducated act showing a lack of respect for the place she was a guest and for those who invited her."

Is it just me, or does "uneducated outburst" sound racist?

Ruini's aide can fuck himself. As a Christian and public figure, he would have done much better to actually practice some Christian morality and either forgive Hill for her statement, or humbly agree that the Church is in need of some serious self-examination.

I'm not one to issue blind, across-the-board indictments of the Roman Church. It's huge and complex, which means no general statement can adequately address all that it is. Hill doesn't see the situation academically, so of course she's going to characterize the Church as unjust. I don't blame her for her stance; if I were to sit down with her and hash out the issue, I bet she'd acknowledge the Church isn't simply the sum of its injustices. So we should take Hill's statement in context. Her point was to drive home something the Church is trying hard to sweep under the rug with all the magisterial arrogance it can muster: there's a pedophilia problem that needs addressing. The offense taken at her remarks is a stark reminder that, the Pope notwithstanding, many in the Church's hierarchy don't truly view themselves as part of an "inverted pyramid" where the Pope is the "first servant" and humblest of us all. Rather, the Church follows all other human institutions in how it handles temporal power and authority, which is perhaps only natural, but certainly not the same as the avowed spiritual ideal.

Some will see Lauryn Hill's conduct as inappropriate, which it was; no argument here. But inappropriateness isn't the issue for me. By that standard, the Church's own silence in regard to the pedophilia scandal (and other scandals) is far more inappropriate-- some might even say sinful. The occasional impolitic shout is good shakubuku. Doing it in the heart of the Sancte Sede strikes me as smart tactics. The old prophets were notorious for being impolitic: truth doesn't always have to stand on formality.

So I say, "HAY-yull, YEAH!"


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