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Bono reveals his guilt over the way he treated his late father, saying he finally felt ‘free’ after praying in a candlelit chapel and asking for forgiveness
Rock singer Bono has revealed how he knelt in prayer in a candlelit French chapel to ask for forgiveness from his late father for the way he treated him after his mother’s death.
In a candid interview on today’s Desert Island Discs, the U2 frontman says he finally felt “free” after the gesture that allowed him to dispel the guilt that had plagued him for years.
“I apologized to my father in a chapel in France after he died,” he says. ‘I went to this little chapel, there was no one there and lit a candle.
“I got down on my knees and just said, ‘Look, I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. You’ve been through a lot, forgive me’, and I felt free.’
Rock singer Bono (pictured) has revealed how he knelt in prayer in a candlelit French chapel to ask forgiveness from his late father for the way he treated him after his mother’s death
The 62-year-old believes he could have supported his father Bob more after the death of his mother, Iris, from a brain aneurysm sustained at her own father’s funeral in 1974, when the singer was 14. an all-male household with his father and brother, Norman, Bono—real name Paul Hewson—says, “I had a complicated relationship with Bob. You know, I’m sure I was hard to get along with. The nasty gene would have been very present.
“He wasn’t quite sure what was going on and I understood later that he was dealing with other things in his life. I feel like I wasn’t there for him, really in a way that I should be. He was very droll, very funny, but it got rough.’
The relationship became even more complicated when the singer discovered in 2000 that he had a half-brother – and his mother was unaware of her husband’s infidelity.
Bono recalls a stalemate and says, “I asked him if he loved my mom and he said ‘Yes’ and I said, ‘How could this happen?” He said, “It can,” and that he was trying to set it right, trying to do the right thing. He didn’t apologize, he just said these were the facts.’
Bono with Dad, Bob Hewson at the Clarence hotel for a surprise 75th birthday party in 2000
Despite the tensions, Bono speaks heartily about his father, who defied his Catholic family into marrying Iris, a Protestant. He says that U2, founded in 1976, became ‘a different family’.
An outspoken anti-poverty campaigner, Bono is making charges of hypocrisy against the band for their legal, but controversial, foreign tax schemes.
‘I think of the basis of this’ [criticism] It’s a misconception that if you’re hard-hearted in your activism, you have to somehow be gentle in your business,” he says. When asked how he aligns the tax set-up with his own moral compass, he adds: ‘It is actually the fiduciary duty of a listed company to control costs. This is a bit of a gotcha situation for U2.
“There are many reasons not to like our band. This is not one of them. We pay a lot of taxes, and we are proud to pay taxes.’
lDesert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 today at 11:15 am and will be repeated Friday at 9:00 am.