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UK

Singer Sinead O'Connor demands Pope steps down

Singer Sinead O'Connor pauses during an interview with Reuters in Paris May 21, 2007. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish singer Sinead O’Connor called on Friday for Pope Benedict to step down over a government report that said Church leaders covered up widespread sexual abuse of children for 30 years.

The Vatican issued a statement on Friday saying the pope felt “outrage, betrayal and shame” over the scandal and would write to the Irish people about sexual abuse.

But O’Connor, who once inflamed Catholic sensibilities by ripping up a picture of Benedict’s predecessor Pope John Paul II on live television, said in a letter published in a British newspaper earlier on Friday that the pope had remained silent on child abuse for too long.

“I demand the Pope stand down for his contemptible silence on the matter and his acts of non-co-operation with the inquiry,” O’Connor wrote in a letter to the Independent newspaper, published ahead of a meeting between Irish church leaders and the pope at the Vatican.

“Popes have had no problem voicing their opinions when we wanted contraception or divorce,” O’Connor said. “No problem criticising The Da Vinci Code. No problem criticising Naomi Campbell for wearing a bejewelled cross.

“Yet when it comes to the evils done by paedophiles dressed as priests they are silent. It is grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented. They stand for nothing now but evil.”

The Church in the overwhelmingly Catholic country has been rocked by two reports this year on abuse. The Murphy Commission Report issued on November 26 found it had “obsessively” hidden child abuse from 1975 to 2004.

O’Connor, whose 1990 song “Nothing Compares 2 U” was a number one hit across the world, caused uproar in Ireland when a breakaway Catholic group ordained her a priest at a ceremony staged in Lourdes 10 years ago.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Robin Pomeroy

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