May 24, 2024

In 1992, Sinead O’Connor tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II on American television as a form of revenge against her violent mother. The singer, whose remains were just returned to her family after she was found dead at the age of 56 in London, caused a storm when she ripped up an image of the pontiff during a live performance on “Saturday Night Live,” but contrary to widespread reports, she meant to target all abusers, including her mother.

My plan all along was to rip up the papal picture my mother had given me. It was a symbol for abuse, dishonesty, and lying. Since her death, a section from her 2021 memoir “Rememberings” has surfaced in which she explained that “the type of people who kept these things were devils like my mother.”

When the time was right, I would destroy it in whatever way seemed appropriate at the time. Keeping that in mind, I have always transported it with great care to each new residence I have occupied. Because no one has ever cared for Irish children.

In her brutally honest autobiography, Sinead described the years of abuse she endured at the hands of her mother Johanna Marie, who passed away at the age of 46 in a car accident. She also said that the religious outrage she received for tearing up the Pope’s photo was worth it for the exposure and record sales.

Two years after her breakthrough with her tearful music video for her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” she pulled the stunt and said of it, “I feel that having a No 1 record derailed my career and my tearing the photo put me back on the right track… some things are worth being a pariah for.”

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