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Prelate proposes posthumous removal of BBC star’s papal knighthood; Vatican spokesman responds

Catholic World News - October 29, 2012

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has called for the removal of the papal knighthood bestowed upon Jimmy Savile in 1990. Saville (1926-2011), an English disc jockey and media personality, may have abused up to 300 girls, according to police.

“Recognizing the deep distress of all those who have suffered abuse and the disquiet at Mr. Savile's name remaining on papal honors lists,” Archbishop Nichols asked “the competent office [of the Holy See] to investigate whether the papal honor awarded to Jimmy Savile for his charitable works could be posthumously removed and its effects nullified,” said an archdiocesan spokesman.

Noting that the Holy See “firmly condemns the horrible crimes of sexual abuse of minors,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that “It is deeply saddening that a person who has been soiled in this way could in his lifetime have been proposed for an honor by the Holy See, which in the light of recent information should certainly not have been bestowed.”

“As there does not exist any permanent official list of persons who have received papal honors in the past, it is not possible to strike anyone off a list that does not exist,” he continued. “The names of recipients of papal honors do not appear in the Pontifical Year Book, and the honor expires with the death of the individual.”

“The most important thing, therefore, is to reaffirm the Church's condemnation of all forms of sexual abuse, and particularly abuse of minors, as extremely grave crimes,” Father Lombardi added. “The Holy See is adamant on this point.”

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  • Posted by: geoffreysmith1 - Oct. 29, 2012 10:46 AM ET USA

    Archbishop Nichols would do well to keep the Catholic Church out of this media frenzy that is being directed against Saville. Under English law, an accused person must be regarded as innocent of the charge unless and until he is proved guilty in a court of law. Since Saville is now dead, he will not be indicted in a court, and Nichols must not regard him as guilty, after the fashion of the British media.

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