Billy Connolly: I’ve gone back to church

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BILLY Connolly has said that he has started attending church again following the deaths of his sister and friend Robin Williams.

The actor and comedian was brought up as a Catholic but turned his back on religion more than 50 years ago and has frequently mocked the church’s teachings in his stand-up routines.

He’s got me going to church, the bugger.

Billy Connolly

However, the comic said the passing of Williams, the actor and close friend of Connolly, and his sister Florence Dickson, had led to him going back to church.

The 72-year-old, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, said he regularly attends church to light two candles in memory of his lost loved ones but insists he doesn’t pray.

His sister, a former teacher from Glasgow’s southside, died in May aged 74. Connolly helped carry the coffin at her funeral.

Williams committed suicide last August. He had battled depression and was said to be suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Asked about Williams, Connolly said: “He’s got me going to church, the bugger. Well, I don’t go and pray, I go and light a candle for him.

“And my sister died a couple of weeks ago, so I light two candles.

“It really appeals to me, the flame burning when you leave the building, you know?”

Connolly said he spoke with Williams shortly before his death and he “knew there was something wrong”.

He said: “He kept saying that he loved me and asking if I believed him and I said, ‘Of course I believe you. Don’t be daft’.

“My wife’s a psychologist and afterward she said, ‘I think that was him saying goodbye’.”

Connolly, who has just announced a new stand-up tour of Canada, had successful surgery for prostate cancer in 2013 after it was diagnosed withing weeks of his Parkinson’s.

He told how people he meets constantly want to talk about ill-health and death but said he preferred not to contemplate it.

He added: “You must never give these things an even break, because you certainly find they overwhelm you, and it’s all people want to talk about.

“You become defined by it. But I’ve had 45, 50 years without Parkinson’s, so I can get along just fine, thank you very much. And I find it very interesting, especially in my comedy life, because my mind works differently. It works at a different speed and I find it very exciting.”

Connolly has previously described himself as an atheist and accused the Catholic Church of “brainwashing” people.

He had said: “I don’t have any relationship with Catholicism any more. I don’t adhere to it. I don’t want to sound prudish and say that I don’t approve of it, but I don’t.”

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