Lauryn Hill ''pulls a Sinead'' at Vatican concert. The reclusive diva blasts the Church over its pedophilia scandal before televised performance

By Gary Susman
Updated December 15, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Lauryn Hill: Guiseppe Giglia/EPA/AP/Wide World

Lauryn Hill is apparently back with a vengeance. The reclusive R&B diva, little heard from in recent years, resurfaced Saturday at a taping of a Christmas concert at the Vatican, but she got less notice for her performance than for her offstage remarks blasting the Catholic Church for its handling of its pedophilia scandal. Speaking on a stage frequently used by the Pope and addressing an audience full of Vatican officials, she said: ”God has been a witness to the corruption of His leadership, to the exploitation and abuses. It is the least one can say about the clergy,” according to Rome newspaper La Repubblica.

After urging officials to ”repent,” she scrapped her songs listed in the program and sang instead ”Damnable Heresies” and ”Social Drugs.” The incident recalled both Sinéad O’Connor’s notorious ”fight the real enemy” tirade on ”Saturday Night Live” in 1992, when she tore up a picture of the Pope, as well as Hill’s own ”MTV Unplugged 2.0,” her 2002 live album (which marked her only major turn in the limelight since the release of her multiple-Grammy-winning ”The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in 1998), which was full of similar non-musical rants.

The Vatican had no official comment on Hill’s remarks. Concert organizers told Variety that Hill’s commentary and performance would probably be edited out of the broadcast of the Christmas concert.