By C.Seng. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By C.Seng. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Shakira’s choice of song could be seen as a comment on how she feels the Catholic church has been addressing child sexual abuse

On Pope Francis’ recent visit to the U.S., after he spoke at the U.N. General Assembly, Pop Icon Shakira took the stage and sang the popular anti-religion song by John LennonImagine.” While some thought it to be quite a courageous move to make just after the Catholic religious leader made his speech, others see it as a humanitarian gesture that was very much appreciated.

Shakira is a Good Will Ambassador for UNICEF and works actively to help the displaced and underprivileged children in her native country, Colombia. Through her initiative, the Pies Descalzos Foundation, she tries to provide quality education to these children along with building projects to provide well-equipped learning facilities and nutritious food to them. Just before she started singing the beautiful song, Shakira dedicated the song to the two Syrian children, Aylan and Ghalib Kurdi, who died of drowning, while fleeing the violence in their country. She said “Our children have the right to equal opportunities, to thrive, to be happy and healthy and safe. Now is the time to not just imagine, but do.”

Thoughts about Shakira’s choice of song

Shakira singing an anti-religious song just after the Pope’s discourse was seen as a very daring act by some. However, given the fact that she was not singing the song in honor of the Catholic Church, but for the millions of homeless and underprivileged children around the world, it all made perfect sense.

Before singing, Shakira said, “Our children have the right to equal opportunity — to thrive, to be happy, and healthy, and safe. Now is the time to not just imagine, but do.”

Shakira’s choice of song, with its “Imagine there’s no heaven… And no religion too” lyrics, could be seen as a comment on her stance against religion in reaction to how the Catholic Church has been addressing child sexual abuse. Peter Mosley of Barrierbreaker cites some key statements from the national spokesman and director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), David Clohessy, “Francis is masterful at symbolic moves and public relations that foster the impression of reform but change little or nothing….For years, Vatican officials have written letters to bishops about this scandal. But since virtually no bishop is ever punished for ignoring or violating church abuse guidelines or policies, many bishops ignore or violate them. So a letter from the pontiff to his prelates, regardless of content, is meaningless.”

Choosing a song that reflects the pain of children, whatever their predicament be, was a smart move on her part. In one clean sweep, she touched the heart of millions of people who not only needed to hear the encouraging words of love and family by the Pope, but a song of compassion too.


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