|What Lauryn Hill told
From Jeremy Charles In Rome
The London Mirror - December 16, 2003
SOUL singer Lauryn Hill stunned Vatican officials at a Christmas
concert by launching an attack on paedophile priests.
Former Fugees star Hill, 28, said she accepted her invitation
only so she could protest at child sex scandals in the United
She told the 7,000 crowd: "I am sorry if I am about
to offend some of you. I did not accept my invitation to celebrate
with you the birth of Christ. Instead I ask you why you are
not in mourning for him in this place?
"I want to ask you, what have you got to say about the
lives you have broken?
"What about the families who were expecting God and
instead were cheated by the Devil?
"Who feels sorry for them, the men, women and children
damaged psychologically, emotionally and mentally by the sexual
perversions and abuse carried out by the people they believed
"Holy God is a witness to the corruption of your leadership,
of the exploitation and abuses which are the minimum that
can be said for the clergy. There is no acceptable excuse
to defend the church."
There was silence for several minutes from the audience in
the Paul VI hall at the Vatican as many of them could not
There were cries of "Enough" and "Shame"
from those who understood while one or two whistled and jeered
before she picked up her guitar and sang.
After her performance her comments were translated for Cardinal
Camillo Ruini, head of the Italian Bishops Conference, who
was sitting in the front row - and he walked out in protest.
No one at the Vatican would comment yesterday on Hill's outburst.
But Monsignor Rino Fisichella, one of the organisers of the
traditional concert, said: "It was in poor taste and
very bad mannered. It showed a complete lack of respect for
her invitation and for the place where she had been invited
"However I am not going to respond with insults to an
insult. It's a shame that it happened."
Pope John Paul II was not at the event but had earlier met
the artists and a special greeting from him was played during
Hill flew back to New York last night unrepentant. She said:
"What I said was the truth. Is telling the truth bad
manners? What I asked was the church to repent for what has
Hill, who is married to reggae legend Bob Marley's son Rohan,
set a record for female artists in 1999 when she won five
Grammy awards for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which sold
more than six million copies.