“To make money by holding a concert on such a day by a singer with such a name is ethically dubious,” said Msgr. Grzegorz Kalwarczyk, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Warsaw. “This may be a deliberate provocation or just a case of thoughtlessness.”
A quick review of the performer’s clashes with organized religion suggests that the concert date was not coincidental – or at least not a concern. As a shrewd self-promoter, albeit at the expense of all things sacred, Madonna has a track record of courting controversy with her performances.
Most recently, Madonna drew angry reaction from religious leaders during her “Confessions” tour at Olympic Stadium in Rome in 2006, within shouting distance of the Vatican. On that tour, she wore a fake crown of thorns and at one point was suspended from a large, mirrored cross.
In 1989, Madonna produced a music video, “Like a Prayer,” which featured burning crosses, statues crying blood and Madonna seducing an actor portraying a black saint. And in 1987, Pope John Paul II urged young Catholics not to attend her “Who’s That Girl” concert in Turin.
Madonna’s obsession with Catholic imagery and sacramentals is rooted in her own Catholic upbringing. Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born and raised in a strict Italian-American Catholic family in Michigan. “There were always priests and nuns in my house growing up,” she once said. Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood her contempt of Catholicism was forged.
For more than 20 years, Madonna has been profiting from the exploitation of her childhood faith. Perhaps it’s time for the aging entertainer to move on to another lesson of Catholicism: penance.
As an act of contrition, Madonna could change the concert date in Poland, assuring that young Catholics in that predominantly Roman Catholic country would keep holy this important feast day.
Had she followed the pattern of her July concert dates (performing Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday one week, then Tuesday and Thursday the next), Madonna would have avoided the conflict. As it stands today, her concert will be met with vigorous protests by numerous Catholic groups. According to Catholic News Service, a public prayer crusade against the concert is slated to begin July 31.
Until she has a change of heart, the material girl will continue to defy religious leaders’ concerns about her music, performances and the messages they send to young people.
In the meantime, our responsibility as Catholics is to pray for Madonna and all other cultural icons, that they are touched by the Holy Spirit and receive the graces to use their gifts in ways that build up humanity and contribute to the common good of society.