Lauryn Hill Denounces Corruption in Catholic Church

On December 13, 2003, Hill made headlines by denouncing "corruption, exploitation, and abuses" in reference to the molestation of boys by Catholic priests in the United States and the cover-up of offenses by Catholic Church officials.

The statements were made during a performance at a Christmas benefit concert at the Vatican.

Hill called on the church leaders to "repent" and encouraged the crowd to "not seek blessings from man but from God." She then performed the songs "Damnable Heresies" and "Social Drugs".

High-ranking church officials in attendance included Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Monsignor Rino Fisichella and Cardinal Edmund Szoka. Pope John Paul II was not present. The segment was cut from the television broadcast. Both the Vatican and Columbia Records refused to issue official statements regarding Hill's actions. Monsignor Fisichella told reporters that Hill had acted "in poor taste and very bad mannered. It showed a complete lack of respect for her invitation and for the place where she had been invited to perform". The Catholic League called Hill "pathologically miserable" and claimed her career is "in decline".

Hill responded to the controversy on December 16: "What I said was the truth. Is telling the truth bad manners? What I asked was the church to repent for what has happened." The following day, several reporters suggested that Hill's comments at the Vatican may have been influenced by her "advisor" Brother Anthony.

I am sorry if I am about to offend some of you. I did not accept my invitation to celebrate with you the birth of Christ. Instead I ask you why you are not in mourning for him in this place? I want to ask you, what have you got to say about the lives you have broken? What about the families who were expecting God and instead were cheated by the Devil? Who feels sorry for them, the men, women and children damaged psychologically, emotionally and mentally by the sexual perversions and abuse carried out by the people they believed in? Holy God is a witness to the corruption of your leadership, of the exploitation and abuses which are the minimum that can be said for the clergy. There is no acceptable excuse to defend the church.”

— Lauryn Hill