"Priestess" Sin

The singer is one of many recently to give up the giving up. Is renounced celibacy spreading?

By Hank Hyena

Published November 5, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Nov. 5, 1999

"I failed miserably," Sinead O'Connor confessed to Irish television on November 4, reports Agence France Presse. "I meant well by doing the celibacy thing but it doesn't work for me because I need love and affection ..."

The Irish songster vowed a commitment to chastity last April when she became a priestess of the Latin Tridentine Church, a maverick Catholic splinter creed. Irish rebel bishop Michael Cox performed the ordination, rechristening the singer with the nunnish-name of "Mother Bernadette Mary."

"I lasted about three months," O'Connor admitted. "I tried. No thanks." Her future plans include the release of an album which she says will be "sexier" than her earlier work. Apparently, even the brief stint with virginity seems to have stirred up her libido.

Backsliding Sinead isn't the only Catholic to leap lustily out of the priesthood recently. Pastor Bob Riler of All Saints Church in Puyallup, Washington, resigned last month by sending a three-page letter to each of the 1,750 homes in his parish, notes an article in the October 28 issue of the News Tribune. His epistle expressed his desire to seek intimate female companionship, while deriding celibacy as an "arcane, man-made law ... a historical accident."

Riler is the 70th priest to cast off the cassock in the western Washington area in the last 30 years, as droves of holy-but-horny fathers worldwide flee the prudish faith. Even Ireland, where priests used to be as thick as clover, is suffering from a clerical shortage, claims an October 24 essay in the Times Union in Albany, NY. The Archdiocese of Dublin, a city with a population of 1.2 million, has frocked only two priests in the last two years, and both have already given up.

Will John Paul II ever budge from the hardcore stance on celibacy that has characterized Catholicism since the 11th century? Insiders say no; sexual priests will never appear as long as the Vatican is ruled by the rigid Pole.

Hank Hyena

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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