Mark Thompson, is the most influential Roman Catholic lay person in Britain, according to an analysis by the Catholic weekly The Tablet.
The director general of the BBC who last year warned about the undue influence of religious groups came ahead of Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, who has faced criticism for her links with Opus Dei, and Cherie Booth, a successful lawyer and the Prime Minister's wife, who are second and third.
The periodical, which publishes its list of the 100 top Catholics today, said its analysis demonstrated how accepted Catholics had become in the life of the nation and the establishment, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Catholics however are still prevented from becoming king or Queen under the Act of Settlement, 1701.
Not only is the BBC's chief a Catholic, but his deputy, Mark Byford, is too, and is ranked 33rd in the list. So is Robert Thomson, the Australian-born editor of The Times, who is placed 10th. The Duchess of Kent, the first senior Royal to convert since 1701, is ranked 13th, while Michael Martin, a working class Glaswegian who became the first Catholic speaker of the House of Commons since the Reformation, is sixth.
Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea soccer manager, is in seventh place, two ahead of Delia Smith, the cook and Norwich City football club director, and 70 places above Lawrence Dallaglio, the former England rugby captain.
Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, is at number five, just pipped by Sir Peter Sutherland, the chairman of BP and Goldman Sacks International, and founding director-general of the World Trade Organisation.
John Reid, the Defence Secretary, is placed 15th, while Anthony Minghella, the film director, comes in at 18 and Terry Leahy, the chief executive of Tesco, is eighth.
The Witchalls family, including Abigail, the pregnant mother paralysed in a knife attack, are collectively described as "Catholicism's best advertisement" and put in 14th place.
Being the ex-leader of a political party appears, however, to be the equivalent of the outer darkness, suggests the Daily Telegraph's Jonathan Petre. While the former ministers Clare Short and Ann Widdecombe are both listed at 42 and 48 respectively, neither Ian Duncan-Smith nor Charles Kennedy is mentioned.
Top 10 most influential lay Catholics according to The Tablet:
1 Mark Thompson, the BBC director general
2 Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary
3 Cherie Booth, lawyer and Prime Minister's wife
4 Sir Peter Sutherland, chairman of BP and Goldman Sacks Int
5 Sir Gus O'Donnell, Cabinet Secretary
6 Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons
7 Jose Mourinho, Chelsea manager
8 Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco
9 Delia Smith, cook
10 Robert Thomson, editor of The Times