Published March 29, 2005
Catholic-turned-kabbalah-devotee Madonna (search) has a bad habit of displaying poor taste, and now her boy-toy director hubby has stirred up more controversy -- by dressing as the pope while John Paul II is seriously ailing.
The bizarre pair donned what critics blasted as outrageously offensive costumes for a fete celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim (search) at the Kabbalah Center in London.
The gap-toothed, 46-year-old mom of two went as a nun, while her wide-eyed, 36-year-old husband, Guy Ritchie (search), strutted through the doors as the pope.
Both of them were dripping in crucifixes on Holy Thursday, just three days before Christianity's most sacred holiday, Easter.
But it was Ritchie's gold-trimmed white garb and matching skullcap that drew the most ire of Catholic leaders, who were incensed over his timing, considering that Pope John Paul II's worldwide flock is in grief over his poor health.
"Her husband suggests that he's just as depraved as his wife," said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.
"I suggest that next time, Madonna dress up in something more suited to her, such as from the Wiccan religion. And the Catholic League would donate a broom to her husband — with instructions on what to do with it."
Madonna's rep, Liz Rosenberg, scoffed at critics.
"That's completely ridiculous," she said of the hoopla. "They went to a costume party. There wasn't disrespect intended at all. That's just somebody looking for a problem when there isn't one."
Exclusive photos of the pair at the gig will be featured in People magazine on Friday.
Purim is the Jewish religion's most festive holiday, when it is customary to wear costumes — although the costumes generally involve characters from the historical Purim story, not popes and nuns.
The furor over Madonna and Ritchie at the Purim party came as Pope John Paul II's health forced him to skip yet another treasured tradition Monday: the post-Easter blessing from his Vatican window.
A day earlier, on Easter, the pope had failed to speak to the masses gathered to hear services in the square.