Singapore archbishop warns flock against Madonna concert

A banner promotes US singer Madonna's upcoming February 28 concert in front of the National Stadium in Singapore

Singapore's Roman Catholic archbishop has expressed concern at an upcoming concert by pop diva Madonna in the city-state and warned his flock against supporting those who "denigrate and insult religions". Archbishop William Goh said in a statement posted on the diocese website on Saturday that he had met various government officials to express the church's concerns about the February 28 concert, part of her global Rebel Heart Tour. The concert, at the 55,000-seat National Stadium, will be Madonna's first-ever in largely conservative Singapore. She was barred from performing in Singapore in 1993 after police said her performances bordered on the obscene and were "objectionable to many on moral and religious grounds". Goh said that in a multi-ethnic society like Singapore "we cannot afford to be overly permissive in favour of artistic expression at the expense of respect for one's religion". Authorities have assured the archbishop that restrictions have been placed to ensure that content deemed offensive to religious beliefs would not be allowed on stage, the church statement said. The Media Development Authority has restricted the concert to those aged 18 and above because of sexual references. Local media reports said Madonna would not be performing a controversial tour segment called Holy Water, which includes dancers dressed as scantily-clad nuns performing on cross-shaped stripper poles. The church statement said many Roman Catholics have voiced outrage at Madonna's "disrespectful use of Catholic and other Christian symbols" in her performances. "There is no neutrality in faith; one is either for or against. Being present (at these events) in is itself a counter-witness," the archbishop said. He warned his flock against supporting "the 'pseudo arts' that promote sensuality, rebellion, disrespect, pornography (and) contamination of the mind of the young". Some Catholics said they supported the archbishop's decision and would not attend the concert. Student Kevin Koh, 24, said he would not go but would not pass judgement on fellow Catholics who attend. "Singapore as a society has to start being open to these things because we can no longer live in our own shells," he told AFP. Some online comments were critical, with one commentator saying the faithful should be allowed to make their own decisions.