People Need a Short, Sharp Shock: SINEAD O'CONNOR

Watch out: an unrepentant Sinead O'Connor blasts the Catholic church, Bob Dylan and the treatment of women

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A. Yes. I wanted to do it for Ireland because they've done a terrible thing to us. They've made it so that Irish people can't seem to stand up for their own identity without it being in some way associated with the IRA, and I want to create another avenue for expression. And I'm trying to give others the opportunity who have had the same experience as Ireland to come out with it too. We're all fighting each other, but we have one enemy in common. I say it's the Roman Empire and the Vatican.

Q. You sound as if you're saying the church is the root of all evil?

A. Yes, I am saying that. I consider myself to be a Christian. I consider the Vatican to be anti-Christian because in the name of Christianity, they committed anti-Christian acts. They blessed the bombs that went into Ethiopia. They gave permission for the Irish people to be starved, the French people, the African people, for the Jewish people to be slaughtered. They are responsible for all of the destruction we see in the world today.

Q. How have you maintained your faith when you have such strong feelings against the church?

A. When I was a child growing up in circumstances where I was completely ^ frightened, all I could do was ask God to help me. And he did, by giving me my voice and my instincts and my feelings. What is inside of us is what God is.

Q. Don't you believe the church has done any good at all?

A. I'm not going to get into that. Those who have done good know what they've done, and they don't need to have it clarified for them. And also, I would not disrespect people for believing what they've been taught. It's not their fault. But they've been told lies, and they have to face the truth.

Q. But if you want to get your message across, isn't there a way to do it without offending people?

A. There's no way to tell people this truth without having them be poff. The fact is that people are asleep. They need a short, sharp shock. They need that to make them stand up and listen. What happened at the Bob Dylan show is proof.

Q. Were you surprised when they booed you at the Bob Dylan concert in New York City's Madison Square Garden two weeks after you ripped up the Pope's picture?

A. Don't forget that half of them were cheering.

Q. So why did you sing the Bob Marley song you had performed when you tore up the Pope's picture instead of doing the Dylan song you had originally planned to do?

A. In some ways I wish I had. But I've already recorded the song, and I already know what it means to me. I mean, he was my inspiration when I was growing up. But whatever I felt and what Bob Dylan symbolized had gone. What occurred to me in those seconds was that if this audience felt like this, then they hadn't actually listened to what Bob Dylan said, they didn't actually get it. These are the people who supposedly believed in Bob Dylan, but they've fallen asleep. And this is proved by the fact that himself, their figurehead, fell asleep. Bob Dylan went onstage after that had happened to another artist.

Q. Did he say anything to you after the concert?

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