This is the article that appeared in the September 2023 edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal. The date that prints out reflects the day that it was uploaded to our website. For a more accurate date of when the article was first published, check out the news release, here.
Irish singer Sinead O’Connor passed away on July 28.
In her better years, she sold millions of record albums, winning a Grammy for her work.
She became an overnight sensation in 1992 when she appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II. Her antics, often controversial, were condemned not only by rank-and-file Catholics, but by celebrities such as Madonna and Frank Sinatra.
The “SNL” stunt was uncalled for, but it was her advocacy of violence that was more disturbing. In 2011, she warned Pope Benedict XVI not to come to Ireland, saying that if he did there would be a “f***in bloodbath.”
O’Connor was also delusional, perhaps a reflection of her drug habits. In 1999, she announced that she had become a priest; she even wore priestly attire. She described herself as Mother Bernadette Mary and claimed to have the authority to say Mass and administer the Sacraments.
Bill Donohue once debated her on Larry King’s CNN show on the subject of clergy sexual abuse. The discussion floundered when she had to ask King, “What does postpubescent mean?” Donohue had just mentioned that most of the abuse involved postpubescent males.
When she died, many celebrities and talking heads in the media lionized her for her “bravery” in ripping up a picture of the pope. Her fans commended her for calling attention to clergy sexual abuse.
A Facebook page was set up, saying, “Apologize to Sinead O’Connor NOW.”
But Sinead was not some great scholar who commanded great prescience. In fact, she was a troubled soul who was badly educated. She was no more a “truth-teller” than were those who worshipped her.
The Associated Press (AP) had an embarrassing article on Sinead. It cited as authoritative the pro-Sinead remarks of David Clohessy, the man who once headed the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). He had to leave in disgrace. As Donohue showed in his book, The Truth about Clergy Sexual Abuse, he was shown to be an utter fraud. The Catholic League was pleased to have played a major role in his ouster.
AP reported that Clohessy was in his early 30s when Sinead pulled her “SNL” stunt. It said that “he had only recently recalled the repressed memories of the abuse he suffered.” Never mind that the idea of “repressed memory” has been thoroughly discredited—no serious psychologist defends it anymore—Clohessy has said that his memory of what allegedly happened to him was jarred when he and his fiancée were watching a Barbra Streisand movie. That would do it.
Michael McDonnell was quoted in the AP article speaking favorably about Sinead. He was identified as the “interim executive director” of SNAP. What readers didn’t know is that poor Mike has been the “interim director” for quite some time now. The reason he is still “interim” is because SNAP does not exist anymore. It’s nothing but his cell phone.
AP also cited comments by Jamie Manson, the lesbian head of an anti-Catholic pro-abortion group, Catholics for Choice. Manson said that when Sinead ripped up the picture of the pope she was “feeling a call to the priesthood at the time.” “Now if a male Catholic activist said he once felt called to be a nun,” Donohue said, “wouldn’t it make sense to call the mental health hotline?”
Molly Olmstead at Slate wrote a beauty. She went after Pope John Paul II for his “role” in covering up the scandal. The link she provided was to a story by National Public Radio saying the pope was aware of accusations against homosexual predator, and former cardinal, Theodore McCarrick.
The pope should have listened to New York Archbishop John Cardinal O’Connor. He had McCarrick’s number and explained in detail to the Vatican why he was alarmed. Instead the pope was persuaded by two high-ranking Vatican officials who took McCarrick’s side. He heeded the wrong advice, but this is not the same as instituting a cover-up.
Olmstead resurrected the fictitious tales about the Magdalene Laundries, where Sinead stayed, so she could bash the Catholic Church. As Donohue recounted in his monograph, “Myths of the Magdalene Laundries,” data contained in what is known as the “McAleese Report” demonstrate that these homes for wayward girls that were run by nuns were not anything like its harshest critics have alleged. No one was imprisoned, forced to stay or engage in slave labor. Not a single woman was sexually abused by a nun. Not one. It is all a lie.
It is true that Sinead was sexually abused. But not by a nun—it was her own mother who molested her. So it was hardly surprising that her father decided that she would be better off being taken care of by the nuns.
Olmstead said that “Bill Donohue of the Catholic League led the public charge against O’Connor back in 1992.” Donohue replied, “I would have been happy to do so, but I didn’t become president until 1993.”