I usually prepare myself to be disappointed when celebrities begin to share their religious beliefs and opinions. As a fan of Elvis Costello’s music, however, I was happy see to him speaking respectfully about his Catholic upbringing in a recent interview:
You were brought up Catholic?
Yes, I was. I don’t go to church, or have the beliefs I was brought up in. But I grew up just after the scare-you-out-of-your-wits era, and didn’t encounter any of the unfortunate people for whom, perhaps, the demands of the prohibitions were too great for their nature, and hence these horrendous abuses of the power that they had over children. I had friends who did experience it. But I won’t just fall in with the demonization of the clergy, because I have in my life kind experiences [with priests and nuns]. I mean, nuns taught me to read, That was my fortune, and somebody else will have a totally different experience. And that’s the danger of making these broad statements, that ‘all those people over there, they’re all this thing.’
The interview was a part of Costello’s promotions for his latest CD, National Ransom, which features some religiously and politically themed lyrics.
I can’t vouch for the contents of the CD, as I haven’t listened to it yet, but I do find it refreshing to hear a celebrity speak respectfully about Catholicism, even if it is a faith he has largely abandoned. Costello is absolutely right when he says that Catholicism and especially the clergy are easy targets for criticism these days, and I am grateful to see that at least one popular singer is refusing to get on that bandwagon.
(Of course, not every “former Catholic” is a celebrity giving interviews. You might even have some in your own family or neighborhood. A great resource for evangelizing fallen away Catholics, celebrity or otherwise, is Catholics Come Home. With education at the parish level and national media campaigns, Catholics Come Home reaches out to inactive Catholics and invites them to “come home” to their roots of faith.)