Singer Rufus Wainwright played down comments he made about the run-down Catholic church in New York which inspired his new ballad Candles after branding it "crappy" on a Dvd special.
The gay singer penned the track after visiting the historic St. Vincent de Paul in the trendy Chelsea area of Manhattan, but he angered local parishioners by criticising the church on the Dvd from the deluxe edition of his latest album Out of the Game.
On the film, he explained, "I would periodically light candles (for his mother Kate MCGarrigle). When she did pass (in 2010), I got back to New York, and there's a little church around the corner from my apartment, a very poor, rundown French Catholic church... that looks beautiful on the outside but is really falling apart."
Wainwright recently paid a visit to the place of worship to light a candle for his late mum, only to be told there were none left.
He then travelled to Paris, France and headed to the Notre Dame, where he was able to honour his mother: "There was this side of me that thought, 'Maybe she was just waiting for a better venue instead of that crappy little church on 23rd Street."
His comments irked worshippers at the 170-year-old church and one nearby resident called on Wainwright to make amends for his criticism by making a generous donation.
The local told the New York Post's Page Six column, "(Wainwright) needs to apologise... and buy the church some candles. Parishioners are up in arms that their church, which has long served the poor, has been insulted by a neighbour."
Wainwright has since addressed the controversy, insisting the church is "beautiful", although in need of "the restoration it deserves" - but he's not prepared to hand money to the venue unless Catholic Church officials change their attitudes toward same-sex unions.
He says, "It is a beautiful church, and I hope that it gets the restoration it deserves. But considering the Catholic Church's views on gay rights, they won't get much help decorating."