A Roman Catholic bishop in the Philippines has urged Catholics to boycott American pop singer Madonna’s two-night concert in Manila later this month. Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa City, which lies south of the capital, called her music “suggestive,” her outfits “vulgar,” and her general attitude blasphemous. The bishop also said that her concerts were among “subtle attacks of the evil one,” in an apparent reference to Satan.
Madonna’s first-ever concerts in the Philippines are scheduled for Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 24 and Thursday, Feb. 25. This just so happens to be the same hall where Pope Francis met Filipino families a year ago. The concerts are part of a world tour for her latest record, Rebel Hearts, her 13th studio album. Tickets for the concert can cost as much as 57,750 pesos ($1,211.84).
Born 1958 in Michigan, Madonna Louise Ciccone was raised a Catholic. For decades, she’s tangled with the church over her music and the flaunting of Catholic symbols in her videos and concerts. Earlier, a Catholic bishop in Singapore raised similar concerns about her concert scheduled there for Feb. 28. Roman Catholics make up about 80 percent of the Philippine population of more than 100 million.
Madonna arrived in Manila well before her scheduled concerts and paid surprise visits to some Catholic orphanages. According to Catherine Scerri, the deputy executive director of the Bahay Tuluyan shelter in Manila, the facility was told that Madonna’s dancers were going to visit, but they did not find out that Madonna herself was also coming until an hour before her arrival. Anne dela Cruz, an official with the Hospicio de San Jose orphanage, also said Madonna’s visit was a surprise. Madonna’s staff reportedly asked both facilities not to take photos of the visits.
At the Bahay Tuluyan shelter, Madonna asked the officials about the center’s program and whether the children attended school. Then, she spent most of her 45-minute visit with the kids, sitting on a tarpaulin mat with them. The children did a couple of dances before being joined by Madonna’s dancers. Pictures were posted on the star’s social media accounts, with one captioned, “Hats off to the Bahay Tulyan Foundation in Manilla for taking so many kids off the street and providing food and shelter! #rebelheartour.”