Rihanna’s Flirtation With Catholicism – OpEd


On the cover of the latest edition of Interview magazine, Rihanna is dressed as a sexy nun, wearing bright red lipstick adorned in a black and white habit. This is not the first time she has appropriated Catholic garb. 

In 2018, she was dressed as a bishop in an exhibition, “Heavenly Bodies,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. One reviewer offered a detailed description of her outfit. “The lavishly embroidered and jeweled robes matched the garments’ accompanying ‘mitre,’ a kind of headdress for bishops.” The Vatican loaned the mitres and some other items.

While Rihanna’s presence at the New York event was not disrespectful—she won the applause of Cardinal Timothy Dolan—the photo on the cover of Interview is meant to be provocative, even edgy. Why she chose to depict herself as a trampy-looking nun is unclear.

Mel Ottenberg interviewed her for the magazine. Most of what they said is what we would expect from foul-mouthed adolescents. He said toward the end, “This is such a sick interview, by the way.” She replied, “I love it.”

But there is a side to Rihanna that is serious, and it is ennobling. She cares deeply about her two children, saying, “The well-being of your kids, you worry about that constantly. Nobody warns you that having kids means you’re going to worry every second of your life.” It should be noted that she spontaneously mentioned her kids—she was not asked about them.

When she was later asked about having more children, she answered, “As many as god [sic] wants me to have. I don’t know what god [sic] wants, but I would go for more than two. I would try for my girl. But of course if it’s another boy, it’s another boy.”

God is on Rihanna’s mind. 

In an interview she gave last year to Relevant magazine, she said, “I have been in a place where I felt like maybe I had disappointed God so much that we weren’t as close.” She also knows what it’s like to surrender to God. “When you give God complete control, it’s very hard not to be fearless.”

The devil is also on her mind. 

“The devil just has a way of making you feel like you’re not good enough, and that you’re not worthy of God being close to you. It’s really not the truth, but you wind up feeling like that.” 

Those are not the words of some blasphemous celebrity. Rihanna is no saint but her flirtation with Catholicism has redeeming qualities. Hope she stays the course.

William Donohue

William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.

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