Pope decides to let it be after 40 years

Vatican paper praises Beatles four decades after they said 'we're more popular than Jesus'

The Vatican tends to move a little bit behind the times. It was nearly 360 years after Gallileo was put on trial for heresy that the Church finally conceded it had been wrong to dismiss his contention that the Earth rotated around the Sun. And so yesterday's news that the Holy See had finally come round to The Beatles, a mere 45 years after first finding itself at odds with the Fab Four, was, if anything, ahead of schedule.

But demonstrating the same gracious streak that allowed it to overcome its tiff with the father of modern astronomy, the Vatican, which is embroiled in a clerical paedophile scandal of seismic proportions, has declared the band members' "dissolute" lives – and, of course, John Lennon's immodest claim that by 1966 the Liverpool beat combo was "bigger than Jesus" – lay in the past, "while their music lives on".

Fulsome tributes to the Fab Four appeared in two articles in its L'Osservatore Romano newspaper together with a front-page cartoon reproducing the zebra crossing walk immortalised on the cover of the band's album Abbey Road.

"It's true, they took drugs; swept up by their success, they lived dissolute and uninhibited lives," said the paper. "They even said they were more famous than Jesus. But, listening to their songs, all of this seems distant and meaningless. Their beautiful melodies, which changed forever pop music and still give us emotions, live on like precious jewels."

Giovanni Maria Vian, the paper's editor-in-chief, said yesterday that John Lennon's controversial remark demonstrated how even celebrities were fascinated by Jesus, and wasn't as scandalous as some people had made out.

There had been previous signs that the Catholic Church was edging towards a reconciliation with popular culture's most enduring icons.In a move that some saw as a conscious attempt to broaden its appeal to people below the age of 60, a couple of years ago it praised The Beatles' White Album.

Then in February this year the Vatican paper included Revolver in its "semi-serious" list of top 10 albums, along with three other acts not entirely untouched by suggestions of either sexual scandal, drug use or rock'n'roll debauchery by listing Michael Jackson's Thriller, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, and (What's the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis.

And if the Church has made its step towards The Beatles, one of the surviving members of the band has made a move in the opposite direction. Earlier this year, Ringo Starr declared that God was now "in his life".

* Catholic priests suspected of abusing children should "always" be reported to the police and face justice in the courts, the Vatican has said.

In an attempt to show that the Holy See is striving to respond to the worldwide sex abuse crisis rocking the Catholic Church, the Vatican published on its website its guidelines for handling predator priests.

The short set of rules, published in English, is an attempt to satisfy critics who have accused the Church of covering up some of the dozens of abuse cases that have come to light in the US and Europe in recent months.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • 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

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

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
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor