O'Connor donation disturbing - bishop


Dissident Bishop Pat Buckley has described as "disturbing" the donation of £150,000 by singer Sinead O'Connor to a fellow bishop who ordained her in Lourdes.

The Dublin-born singer confirmed she gave Bishop Michael Cox the sum as "an act of charity" to set up a healing centre for the Travelling community at his ministry in Birr, Co Offaly. She also said she had agreed to fund a hernia operation for the bishop.

However, she said it would be "a lie to suggest I bought my priesthood. Yes, I gave the man £150,000 but not for him specifically, although if he needs to use some of it for himself I'm glad to help. I owe this man my life".

But Bishop Buckley said there was a question as to whether simony - the act of purchasing a sacrament - had taken place. "If this happened in the mainstream church, an ecclesiastical court inquiry would set up. I would be extremely worried if there was money attached in even the remotest way to the performance of a sacrament."

Ms O'Connor, whose name was changed in Thursday's ceremony to Mother Bernadette Mary, said she was "overjoyed" at becoming the Latin Tridentine church's first woman priest.

"This is something I wanted to do all my life. I want to use my music as my ministry to attract young people back to the church, back to the power of prayer so they feel they're able to make this world a better place."

She has bought a house in Lourdes and intends to study there under Bishop Cox for at least six weeks before starting her religious duties. As well as wearing a priest's collar at all times, she said she intended to perform sacraments such as baptism and the administering of the last rites. She will also say Mass but never on stage during a concert.

She said her record companies, Atlantic Records and East-West Records, are "100 million per cent behind me", adding that anyone who wished to receive the sacraments from her could write to either company, marking the envelope with a cross. Bishop Cox said the singer would "prove her critics wrong. She will bring massive numbers of people back to Christ through her music".

He added: "I was worried who would take over the church when I'm gone and I want that person to be Sinead. I've never had a pupil who was so interested in bringing her ministry to the people."

But Bishop Buckley, who was consecrated a bishop last May by Bishop Cox, said the ordination had "embarrassed" the Tridentine church, a breakaway order which continues to adhere to rituals banned by the Second Vatican Council.