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Tuesday, 4 May, 1999, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
O'Connor becomes a 'priest'
sinead o'connor
The artist formerly known as Sinead: Mother Bernadette Mary
Singer Sinead O'Connor has caused uproar in Ireland after becoming a priest.

O'Connor became Mother Bernadette Mary at a ceremony staged by the breakaway Latin Tridentine church in Lourdes last week.

Although her status is not recognised by the mainstream Catholic Church, O'Connor has sought to make amends by apologising for tearing up a portrait of the Pope, and donating IR£150,000 to the bishop who ordained her.

She gave the money to Bishop Michael Cox, who ordained her, as "an act of charity" to set up a healing centre for Ireland's travelling community in County Offaly.

Another dissident bishop, Pat Buckley, called the donation "disturbing" and said there was a question of whether simony - the act of purchasing a sacrament - had taken place.

In an interview for Irish broadcaster RTE from Lourdes, O'Connor, 32, said: "It would be a lie to say I bought by priesthood. This man would not have ordained me for any money if he had not know I had a true vocation.

Authority to say Mass

"I made a donation not to Michael, but to the healing centre he has set up. In my life, God has given me massive resources, so why should it not be used top make money to help the travelling people of Ireland?"

The Catholic Church does not officially recognise women priests, but O'Connor now claims she has the authority to say Mass, baptise and administer last rites.

She plans to continue in the music industry as Mother Bernadette Mary, after the peasant girl whose visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes made the town famous. She also says she will wear a dog collar and clerical shirt daily from now on.

O'Connor also apologised for ripping up the Pope's portrait on US TV show Saturday Night Live, shouting "fight the enemy", in 1992.

She said: "I'm sorry I did that, it was a disrespectful thing to do.

"I have never even met the Pope. I am sure he is a lovely man. It was more an expression of frustration."

Dublin bookmaker Paddy Power has now opened a book on O'Connor becoming the next Pope. She is quoted at 10,000-1.

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