Give Lennon a chance, says leading Vatican paper

By staff writers
November 23, 2008

It caused international uproar at the time, but the Vatican has now seen the tongue-in-cheek side of the late John Lennon's 1966 claim that the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus".

The leading Vatican newspaper has forgiven the late English singer John Lennon for saying four decades ago that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

In an article praising The Beatles and forgiving on eof theirt most famous and iconic members, the influential L'Osservatore Romano says that Lennon had just been showing off and made a "youthful joke".

The singer and guitarist spoke to a British newspaper in 1966, at the height of "Beatlemania", joking that he did not know which would die out first, Christianity or rock'n'roll.

The semi-official Vatican newspaper marked the 40th anniversary of The Beatles' "White Album" with an article praising Lennon and the Fab Four from Liverpool.

The paper described the remark about the Beatles and Jesus as "showing off, bragging by a young English working-class musician who had grown up in the age of Elvis Presley and rock and roll and had enjoyed unexpected success".

L'Osservatore Romano recently got a new editor. Apart from chronicling the Pope's daily doings and printing the texts of papal speeches, it sometimes runs articles on entertainment on inside pages, together with extensive reporting on world affairs.

In a half-page illustrated article, the paper praised The Beatles for what it called their "unique and strange alchemy of sounds and words", reports the BBC.

The paper with it finger on the Pope's pulse said The Beatles's songs had shown an extraordinary capacity for survival and the White Album album remained a "magical musical anthology".

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