Joe Pesci criticised for saying he ‘would have slapped’ Sinead O’Connor in clip

Joe Pesci rants at Sinead O'Connor's Pope stunt

American Actor Joe Pesci is under fire as his historic comments about the late Sinead O’Connor have resurfaced. 

The 80-year-old actor claimed on Saturday Night Live back in 1992 that he “would have slapped” the Irish singer, after she tore up a photo of the Pope. 

It comes after the iconic musician died on Wednesday night aged 56. 

Pesci appeared one week after O’Connor on the famous American sketch show.

While on the show, O’Connor performed a cover version of Bob Marley song “War” with the episode hosted by Tim Robbins. 

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Following her performance, she controversially ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II.

She then looked directly at the camera and said “Fight the real enemy”. Her outburst on the show was to protest against the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church. 

This led to a huge and lengthy backlash – as people found it disrespectful towards the Pope and Church. 

O’Connor herself reflected on the incident in her 2021 memoir, Rememberings. 

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She wrote: “A lot of people say or think that tearing up the Pope’s photo derailed my career”. 

“That’s not how I feel about it I feel that having a No 1 record derailed my career and my tearing the photo put me back on the right track.”

The TV moment came as a shock to the audience. The silence meant producer Lorne Michaels was forced to make the crew turn off the “applause” lights.

The following week, Pesci opened the show with a monologue addressing the controversy. 

He said: “Before we start the show, there’s a little matter I wanna clear up.

“There was an incident on the show last week: Sinead O’Connor tore up a picture of the Pope, and I thought that was wrong, so I asked someone to paste it back together.”

The Home Alone actor added: “I mean why should I let it bother me, right? It wasn’t my show.

“But I’ll tell you one thing, she was very lucky it wasn’t my show, because if it was my show, I would have gave her such a smack.”

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