Sinead now sings with the monks

A GLENSTAL Abbey monk has defended controversial singer Sinead O'Connor's past outbursts and attacks on the Church and the Pope. O'Connor, who has ripped up pictures of Pope John Paul II and proclaimed herself both a lesbian and a priest, will sing with the monks on their next CD.

O'Connor, best known for her hit song Nothing Compares 2 U, announced last year that she would no longer use her unique voice to make pop records and will be only making religious music in the future.

Now the superstar singer, who once played the role of a chain-smoking Virgin Mary in Neil Jordan's film of The Butcher Boy, will record a number of tracks on the Glenstal Monks' upcoming album.

Glenstal Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Murroe, County Limerick, 12 miles outside the city. The Abbey, which is dedicated to Saints Joseph and Columba, is home to a community of monks who assemble in Church five times a day for the Divine Office and the Mass.

Br Mark Patrick Hederman of Glenstal Abbey said its community of monks are delighted Sinead O'Connor will be singing on their new CD. He went on to say that her involvement in the project has come about through her friendship with renowned musician Nomrmn Nm Riain and defended the singer's past outbursts and attacks against the Church.

"When Sinead O'Connor tears up publicly a picture of the Pope, it is not because she is an atheist or because she doesn't believe in the Church. It is an act of frustration and disappointment at a particular presentation of the Church and its failure to speak to the kind of people we really are, we have painstakingly become and are not prepared to renounce or to betray," claimed Br Mark.

"The job of the artist is to describe, to express that reality as it actually is. Artists have been doing that from the beginning of this century, and especially in Ireland, and because they have been doing precisely that they have been condemned, banned, excommunicated by the official organs of the Church," he added.

"Sinead O'Connor, like many artists acts symbolically and should be interpreted symbolically. On this record she is praying with and like the rest of us. It is up to those who listen to the recording to judge whether or not it is the Holy Spirit who prays through us," said Br Mark.

Having spent 23 years in the world of music, Sinead O'Connor has achieved incredible success, including a worldwide Number One single and album, numerous platinum, gold and silver disc awards, as well as touring the world several times over.

The singer famed for her shaved head was one of the most controversial singers of the 1990s. In the United States, Frank Sinatra threatened to "kick her ass" when she refused to perform in New Jersey if the American national anthem was played.

Now O'Connor who wants to be known as Marie Bernadette has taken a giant leap forward, removing herself from the world of commercial pop and quietly passing into a new and personal phase of her life.

She has spent the last seven years studying the science of musical healing, on and off, under the guidance of Nomrmn Nm Riain who has collaborated with the monks of Glenstal Abbey on other albums in the past.

© 2004 Limmerick Leader