Thursday 23 May 2019

'You have to have your principles' - singer Declan O'Rourke turns down invite to perform for Pope Francis

Declan O'Rourke
Declan O'Rourke

Allison Bray

Singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke has turned down an invitation to perform for Pope Francis at Croke Park this summer on moral grounds over abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church.

The Irish troubadour (42) revealed he was invited by organisers of the World Meeting of Families 2018 to perform at the Festival of Families at Croke Park on August 25, alongside Pogues frontman Shane McGowan and legendary folk singer Finbar Furey.

The trio had reportedly been asked by organisers of the event to perform McGowan’s iconic ‘Rainy Night in Soho’ as part of the Catholic Church’s celebration of family life.

But speaking to RTE Radio One's Joe Duffy on his ‘Liveline’ programme today, Mr O’Rourke said he declined the invitation on moral grounds.

“That was a bit shocking,” he said of receiving an invitation to perform at the event.

“I had a bit of a moral dilemma to say the least. I mean, I’m not a religious person. No disrespect to anyone else’s beliefs,  but you know,  I feel the Catholic Church is responsible for so much suffering in this country,” he said.

“I felt that if this was going to be a big ordeal made of family and everything that some kind of gesture would have to be made in solidarity with the victims of clerical abuse.

“I would have used my performance, I suppose, as a platform for that purpose, not disrespectfully, but just in solidarity, you know.”

He also revealed that he wouldn’t be allowed to perform any of his own songs but would sing McGowan’s ‘Rainy Night in Soho’ because it was a ‘very tightly-scripted two-hour show.’

“Obviously, I was not going to get to speak or perform. It wasn’t for me. It’s not sour grapes or anything but if I wasn’t going to get to do what I wanted to do, in the extent of at least playing some of my music and making that statement somehow…”

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

The statement he would have made would be along the lines of “this goes out in acknowledgement of the victims of clerical abuse around this country,” he said.

However, he said he never intended to reveal to the organisers that he would making any such statement but he declined to perform nevertheless.

“You have to have your principles and I believe that standing up there and taking part in that concert, if you didn’t make the right acknowledgement to those victims would be wrong. I’m not for that it my career,” he said.

Organisers of the World Meeting of Families 2018 were not immediately available for comment this evening.

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