James Murdoch paid £100,000 to meet Pope

The Catholic Church has been criticised for accepting a six-figure donation from James Murdoch ahead of him being given a personal audience with Pope Benedict during last year's papal visit. Mr Murdoch was among major donors who were invited to personally greet Pope Benedict after a special mass at Westminster Cathedral during the pontiff's visit last September. It is believed that the Murdoch family paid a contribution towards the Papal visit of around £100,000.

The continuing scandal over phone hacking has placed religious institutions in a moral quandary. There have already been calls for the Church of England to divest its £3.8m shares in News Corp, a request which church leaders have so far resisted.

There is growing disquiet within the Catholic community over the Murdoch family's close ties to the church in Britain, America and in Rome.

Although not a Catholic, James's father Rupert was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory by the previous pontiff Pope John Paul II, one of the highest civilian honours the Vatican bestows on people. His wife at the time, Anna Torv, was a practising Catholic and the following year Mr Murdoch gave $10m to help build a cathedral in Los Angeles.

Speaking in today's edition of The Tablet, the influential Catholic weekly, one senior bishop called on the church to be more careful about who it accepts money from in light of the growing furore over News International's journalistic ethics.

"We'll have to be careful in the future about that particular source of money," said Bishop Kieran Conry of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. "A conversation needs to take place, discussion needs to take place. It is a public scandal and everyone knows Murdoch's empire is tainted by these revelations."

Francis Davis, a fundraiser for various religious causes, former government adviser and trustee of numerous charities, added: "Given the importance that the English bishops have attached to ethics in business since the banking crisis, it would now be extraordinary if the bishops were not to review the ethical provenance of this donation. And perhaps it raises questions about other donations we don't know about."

On the Catholic Herald website, readers voiced dismay that Mr Murdoch senior had been knighted by the Vatican and called for Rome to rescind the honour.

"Murdoch should certainly be stripped of his knighthood," wrote one reader. "He should never in the first place have been awarded it. Not only does his latest behaviour and that of his company and his son disqualify him, he has been an enemy of anything that passes for decency for years."

But William Oddie, a former editor of the Catholic Herald and a blogger on church issues, said "Just cancelling the knighthood simply gives the impression of futile censoriousness."

www.thetablet.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Lead Systems Developer / Software Developer

COMPETITIVE + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Lead Systems Developer / Sof...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Engagement Manager - French or German Speaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The world's leading financial services careers...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive - 6 Months Contract

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Digital Marketing Executive...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Senior Account Manager

40-45K DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Manager / Senior Account Manag...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future