The Pope Song

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The Pope Song is a song written by Tim Minchin in 2010 in response to the allegations surrounding the Pope protecting members of the Catholic Church from being accused of child molestation charges. The song has received a fair amount of controversy due to its religious themes and crudeness.


Tim Michin's rationale behind including swear words in The Pope Song
"And if you don't like the swearing this motherfucker forced from me
And reckon it shows moral or intellectual paucity
Then fuck you motherfucker, this is language one employs
When one is fucking cross about fuckers fucking boys"

—The Pope Song (2010)

The song was inspired by both Pope Benedict's 2010 visit to the UK, and the abuse controversy that resurfaced that year. Tim Minchin released it to the Internet with a cartoon of multi-ethnic cardinals and the pope dancing the can-can without any underwear.

The song contains over 80 instances of the words "fuck", "motherfucker" and derivatives of these.

Tim Minchin said "I really don't like upsetting people...and I never do it myself unless it is an incredibly carefully thought-out polemic like the Phil Daoust song or the pope song which have carefully constructed points to them."[1] and "It's a thing of great beauty because it's a challenge, a desecration of something people hold sacred. I want to make people realise that being angry about being mean about the Pope is completely inappropriate in the context of talking about child abuse."[2]

He also explained:[3]

That song's actually an examination of what we find offensive. It challenges people who find that language more offensive than the pedophilia. I'm constantly outraged by that. If you listen to the song carefully, it justifies its language: this is the language you should use when you're angry at kiddie-fucking.


Tim Minchin explains in this song that removing religion debate from the discussion entirely, anyone protecting other "kiddy fuckers" is a "motherfucker", and that this has made him so angry he has been reduced to swearing, which he acknowledges is still not as offensive as a person claiming "moral authority" when allowing such acts.

The purpose of the song being written in a crude and juvenile way is to demonstrate that "the actions of the Vatican, who made it a matter of public policy to protect and shelter child rapist priests while covering their actions is revolting, orders or magnitude more revolting than any repeated expletive should be".[4]

JT Eberhard from Patheos lists these crimes by the pope as follows:[4]

  • "A guy who fails to act against a known pedophile priest"
  • "A guy who allows a priest who molested boys to resume pastoral duties after therapy"
  • "A guy who halts a secret church trial for a pedophile priest molesting boys after that priest begs him"


"Protect The Pope" released a statement regarding this issue:[5]

Tim Minchin is the composer of the disgusting anti-Catholic rant, 'Pope Song' seemingly designed to offend Catholics and incite hate against the Catholic Church. Imagine the uproar if Minchin had performed a similar foul-mouthed rant against Muslims, Jews or homosexuals! Members of all three groups have been involved in child sexual abuse. The lyrics are extremely offensive and mostly a rant of very obscene words."

In early 2012, reported that "Tim Minchin performed The Pope Song at the National Mall, which has about a million people upset, because his song contained...a "few" expletives and said some bad things about the pope". The site argues that opposition to the song is because "people don't get it". The site does acknowledge the argument that "Freedom of speech is awesome, but perhaps some venues are more appropriate than others [for] saying "fuck" an absurdly frequent number of times in a song played publicly".[4] Patheos explained one of the fears people have against the anti-religious, curse-word heavy material that Minchin performed: "Maybe bad words are like invisible lightning bolts of evil, radiating through the child's body and causing irreparable damage and turning them into atheists who will burn in hell".[4] said those whose mental processes are blocked by the swearing, "rendering them incapable of hearing what the song actually had to say", are "delicate flowers on their fainting couches", and therefore provided a censored version for their benefit. It further explained "curse words are bad because they make some people feel momentarily uncomfortable. Child rape is bad because it causes physical harm and psychological trauma, often for a lifetime...if you're not angry enough at the church to swear, then what's wrong with you?".[6]

An investigation was lodged about Tim Minchin vs The Sydney Symphony Orchestra after a complaint said "'The Pope Song' was 'distasteful and offensive'; and, that the song's introduction by Tim Minchin was 'inflammatory'". The ABC explained "the purpose...was to illustrate that the behaviour being criticised, namely pedophilia, is more offensive that the language being used to criticise it", and that "the coarse language formed a legitimate part of the song and was not gratuitous." It was concluded that "The ACMA therefore finds that the ABC did not breach clauses 7.1 of the Code" and "The ACMA finds that the ABC did not breach clauses 7.7 of the Code".[3] The Independent reported "on his American tour [in 2011] in he found himself piano-less in Dallas when the hire company cancelled his contract, calling him a "God-hater" and a "demon"".[2]

Critical reception[edit]

JT Eberhard from wrote "The message of the song is clear from the lyrics, and is brilliantly written, in my opinion."[4] PZ Myers from described the song as "utterly delightful", and explained "it's catchy. You might end up singing it around the house".[7] Den of Geek described the song as "gloriously obscene".[8] The Sydney Morning Herald deemed the song "gloriously offensive".[9] Metro described it as "an expletive-strewn yet neatly phrased anti-Pope song backed by an oompah band".[10]


  1. ^ Kellaway, Kate (28 September 2013). "Tim Minchin: 'I really don't like upsetting people'". The Observer. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Tim Minchin: Comedy's rant'n'roll hero varies his routine". The Independent. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Investigation Report No. 2748: Tim Minchin vs The Sydney Symphony Orchestra". Australian Communications and Media Authority. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Stephens, Christina (29 March 2012). "Tim Minchin, The Pope Song, and offense". What Would JT Do?. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  5. ^ Nick, Deacon (11 May 2012). "BBC honours aggressive anti-Catholic Tim Minchin, composer of disgusting 'Pope Song'". Protect the Pope. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  6. ^ Arensburger, Andrew (26 March 2012). "Tim Minchin's Pope Song — the Clean Version". Epsilon Clue. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  7. ^ Myers, PZ (29 April 2010). "Tim Minchin serenades the Pope". Pharyngula. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Tim Minchin And The Heritage Orchestra Live At The Albert Hall DVD review". Den of Geek. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  9. ^ Cunningham, Harriet (31 March 2011). "Tim Minchin v The Sydney Symphony". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  10. ^ metrowebukmetro (7 December 2010). "Tim Minchin: I wouldn't have the guts to do what Russell Brand does". Metro. Retrieved 9 July 2014.

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