That sure loves controversy.
Over the weekend, during the Rome stop of the 50-year-old Material Girl’s Sticky & Sweet Tour , Madonna stopped her set to dedicate one of her earliest hits, “Like a Virgin,” to Pope Benedict XVI.
“I dedicate this song to the pope, because I’m a child of God,” the singer, who comes from a devout Italian Catholic background, told the Stadio Olimpico crowd of more than 60,000, according to People.com. “All of you are also children of God.”
Italy’s best-selling newspaper, Corriere della Sera, called Madonna’s dedication a “provocation” and just the latest in a long string of incidents that have raised the ire of the Catholic church. Her 1989 clip for the song “Like a Prayer” was largely condemned by Catholic authorities, as it featured several burning crosses and stigmata-afflicted statues, and also showed the singer seducing a black Jesus.
The church spoke out again in 1990 about Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour, which it dubbed one of the most “satanic shows in the history of humanity.” In 2006, the singer staged a mock crucifixion on a Roman stage, and the Vatican responded by accusing her of blasphemy. Church officials have yet to speak out about Madonna’s dedication Saturday night.
The very next night, during the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards , “I Kissed a Girl” singer Katy Perry entertained the studio audience with her own rendition of “Like a Virgin.” Perry’s performance has yet to elicit the same kind of response.