Catholic anger at Murdoch's papal knighthood

The Roman Catholic church is receiving complaints from worshippers following news that Rupert Murdoch has been awarded a papal knighthood from Pope John Paul II.

Senior Catholics are said to have been "mystified and astonished" when they heard that the purveyor of newspaper sex, scandal and nudity was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory at a ceremony in Los Angeles last month.

News of the award was kept out of Mr Murdoch's British titles - the Sun, the Times, the Sunday Times and the News of the World - at his request, although it is provoking outrage in the religious media and in Ireland, where many Catholics have reacted with anger that Mr Murdoch, who is not a Catholic, appears to have been honoured purely for donating large sums of money to the church. He and his wife, Anna, who is a Catholic, are known in Los Angeles as large contributors to the Archdiocesan Education Foundation, although specific amounts are not known.

The award was made by the Pope at the suggestion of Cardinal Archbishop Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. His recommendation was vetted by the Secretariat of State at the Vatican before being given the approval of the pontiff.

The knighthood is bestowed upon people of "unblemished character". It was presented by the Cardinal at St Francis De Sales Church in Los Angeles on 11 January. Other recipients included Bob Hope and Roy Disney, of the Walt Disney empire.

The reaction of Catholics in Britain has been almost unanimously negative.

Deborah Jones, editor of the Catholic Herald, said: "We have been receiving a much larger mailbag that usual, about 99 per cent of it asking: `What the hell is the church doing giving him a knighthood?'

"The great majority are complaining about page 3 girls and soft pornography in his newspapers and on his satellite channels. Some of the more thoughtful ones are expressing concern over his monopolistic tendencies and his [legal] reluctance to pay taxes. Worst of all, it does the church no good at all because it gives the impression that these honours can be bought."

Joanna Bogle, of the Association of Catholic Women, described the decision to honour Mr Murdoch as "absurd".

Speaking in a personal capacity, she said: "It sends out the message that you can make a living out of something - soft pornography - that is regarded by the Church as sinful, and yet you can be awarded for it. The Knighthood of St Gregory is supposed to be about honour and chivalry and and splendour. To give it to Murdoch is ridiculous and wrong."

Fr Kieran Conry, director of the Catholic Media Office, confirmed that some Catholics had been complaining. "Some have said that this man is a purveyor of pornography and filth. The News of the World may not be everyone's idea of a good read, but in general, no one could say Mr Murdoch has done anything evil."

Ann Widdecombe, the Tory MP who converted to the Catholic church, said she was "astonished" at the award. But she added: "I hope that now ... he might feel obliged to make some of his newspapers conform to Catholic teachings. It is never too late for a sinner to repent."

News International said Mr Murdoch did not wish to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Voices
Björt Ólafsdóttir is a member of Iceland's Bright Future party
voicesIceland's Björt Ólafsdóttir on her decision to take part in #FreeTheNipple
Life and Style
The Clove Club will charge customers when they book
food + drink
News
Lapping it up: a woman feeds felines at a cat café in Japan
newsThe vast majority of cat and dog 'wet foods' contain items not specified on the tin, study finds
Sport
Andros Townsend and Paul Merson
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat