Aretha Franklin released a statement Wednesday saying she had a lovely interaction with Pope Francis on Saturday and did not realize he was sitting behind her when she performed at the Festival of Families later that evening.
Franklin took her fair share of heat on social media for failing to greet the pontiff after she took the stage to perform "Amazing Grace."
All of the other performers - including emcee Mark Wahlberg and classical singer Andrea Bocelli - greeted the pope before or after singing, and he presented each with a small gift.
"I met His Holiness backstage. We shook hands and I curtsied," Franklin said in the statement circulated by her publicist. "I gave him a boxed set of sermons by my father, theologian Rev. C.L. Franklin. He asked me to pray for him as he had asked others to pray for him during his appearances. His interpreter was there and Secret Service."
Franklin added, "Considerable time lapsed between my meeting with him and my performance. I didn't realize he was right behind me when I sang 'Amazing Grace.' "
Franklin's rendition of the song was also the subject of much controversy on social media. In the same release, her publicist called the performance "soul stirring."
Last weekend was not the first time Franklin has performed for a pope. She sang for Pope John Paul II in 1987 in her hometown of Detroit.
Franklin did not cause the only mini-music controversy of the weekend. The pope left ahead of Juanes' performance, for which the World Meeting of Families issued an apology this week. Colombian rock star Juanes, who had met the pontiff earlier in the evening backstage, said he had no ill will toward organizers.
Bocelli performed at the Festival of Families and was slated to sing "Ave Maria" with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the papal Mass but his performance there was scrapped for reasons unknown.