O'Connor halts payment to bishop who ordained her


Sinead O'Connor says she has sought the return of a £150,000 donation she gave to the dissident bishop who ordained her in order that doubt will not be cast on the validity of her priesthood.

The Dublin-born singer, who says she has changed her name to Mother Bernadette Mary O'Connor following her ordination ceremony last Thursday in Lourdes, told The Irish Times yesterday that she had contacted her bank to cancel the transfer of the sum to Tridentine bishop Michael Cox.

The bishop has said that if he receives the money in the meantime he will return it to the singer, who is no longer in Lourdes.

Speaking by telephone from an unknown location on the Continent, Ms O'Connor said that she was also considering getting ordained again as "a double protective measure".

Bishop Pat Buckley had speculated that the donation could be viewed as simony - the act of purchasing a sacrament - which would invalidate the ordination.

"Bishop Cox and I know that the donation had nothing to do with my ordination, but I am taking it back for protective reasons. I suspect that when the church looks at my case they will examine every aspect of it and this is double, double protection," Ms O'Connor said.

Bishop Buckley had described the donation as "disturbing" and said he would be extremely worried if money was attached to the performance of a sacrament.

Yesterday he said that the singer had since sought "spiritual guidance" from him. He had agreed to organise a six-week silent retreat for her with a group of monks, possibly in Ireland, at the end of May.

The £150,000 donation had originally been intended for a healing centre for Travellers in Bishop Cox's ministry in Birr, Co Offaly, and to fund the Bishop's hernia operation.

Bishop Cox said yesterday that he was in full agreement with Ms O'Connor: "Some people were getting the impression that Mother Bernadette bought her ordination and that is utterly wrong . . . I would never prostitute my holy orders."

Ms O'Connor said yesterday that she still intended to use the money to set up a healing centre, probably in Lourdes, where she has recently purchased a home. "I don't want people to feel let down . . . the Travellers will still be able to come to be healed and the costs will be covered by my ministry, which will be funded by my musical career."

She added that she was enjoying "being alone with God" for the first time since her ordination and was considering taking a three-year vow of celibacy.