Catholic bishops seek to remove Jimmy Savile's papal honour

By staff writers
October 29, 2012

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has been in touch with the Holy See to ask if a papal honour given to Jimmy Savile can be rescinded posthumously.

Savile was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II for his charity work. It is one of the highest awards the Pope can bestow.

The move to have the honour struck off the record comes in the light of serious allegations of multiple and systemic sexual abuse involving the late entertainer and broadcaster, who was also knighted by the Queen.

It is not clear what action could be taken by the Vatican, since a papal knighthood expires with the death of its recipient.

The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, has called for an investigation, recognising the "deep distress" of Savile's alleged victims.

This morning, leading Catholic commentator Clifford Longley used his BBC Radio 4 'Thought for the Day' slot to apologise for a previous broadcast in which he eulogised Jimmy Savile as a 'holy fool', albeit an odd one.

Savile's family have expressed sorrow, confusion and distress at the reports that the former BBC disc jockey may have abused around 300 young people.

Abuse and children's charities say that it is vital that the voices of victims are listened to and responded to, and that deep lessons about protection and prevention have to be learned in the light of the case.

The issue of how to treat and respond to sex offenders remains a fraught one, with concerns that demonisation and public anger do not push the problem underground.


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