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Debate: Should Rupert Murdoch’s papal knighthood be rescinded?

Or does his financial support of the Church make him a worthy Knight of St Gregory?

By on Friday, 8 July 2011

Rupert Murdoch, left, and Cardinal Edward Egan at the Alfred E Smith fundraising dinner in New York (AP Photo/ Yana Paskova, POOL)

Rupert Murdoch, left, and Cardinal Edward Egan at the Alfred E Smith fundraising dinner in New York (AP Photo/ Yana Paskova, POOL)

In 1998 Rupert Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory. He had apparently been recommended for the honour by Cardinal Roger Mahony, after giving money to a Church education fund. A year later he donated $10 million to help build Los Angeles Catholic cathedral.

Is it right that papal knighthoods should be awarded in this way? The honour is supposed to recognise a person’s service to the Church. Certainly, Murdoch’s money has helped the Church; but surely there are many, many faithful Catholics, whose tireless service to the Church goes unacknowledged, who deserve to be honoured much more.

And is Rupert Murdoch a person the Church should celebrate? He owns – or did own – a newspaper that lost its moral bearings; he ought to bear some responsibility for that.

On the other hand, rescinding his papal knighthood might be difficult to justify. Other papal knights may also have flaws. Where do you set the bar?

So, should Rupert Murdoch’s papal knighthood be rescinded? Or is it fair to honour someone who has helped the Church financially?

  • Aidan Coyle

    Mr Murdoch is eminently human with all the brokenness that accompanies that. While we all make errors of judgement, their implications are seldom as far-reaching as those of someone like him who wields such power. Given that, I don’t think there is much to be achieved by rescinding his papal knighthood. The more important question is whether the Church should be handing out papal knighthoods and reinforcing structures of privilege and power or at least the question should be about the criteria for awarding papal knighthoods.

  • Anonymous

    This is the umpteenth ‘debate’ question which is yet again – NOT A DEBATE!!!

  • Angcore

    “He had apparently been recommended for the honour by Cardinal Roger Mahony” – Tells me all I need to know.

  • Martin

    You used to be able to buy commission’s within the British Army to become an Officer, You can apparently still do it in the Church.

    Neither means anything without the integrity to back it up.

    One is achieved from a dedicated life to the service of the Country you live in through sacrifice and example, the other exactly the same but to Christ.

    If the holder of the title doesnt meet the mark, its not about taking away a title, its about reducing its value in everyones elses mind and effects everyone else who wears it.

    It would be interesting to see how many poor Old Women/Men (who have put their last penny into the church collection) have been public promoted and honoured with such a title…….i hope i am wrong but i dont know many pennyless knight commanders. Surely that is for the well off? Someone please restore my faith here and tell me im wrong. 

  • Mike

    Why not, Paul? Clearly some think it’s OK to buy papal honors, others don’t. That’s a debate. 

  • Little_lisac

    He donated 10 million towards the construction of the Cathedral in Los Angeles?! Has anyone seem that monstrosity? It should be revoked on that reason alone! It’s sad that Los Angeles finally has a faithful shepherd in Archbishop Gomez, and that slab of concrete that in no way resembles what a Catholic Cathedral, is where he holds mass, it not fitting! Thanks Mahoney and have a happy retirement!

  • EditorCT

    Now, now.   Mustn’t criticize the Pope or the Vatican.  Where will it all end?

  • Gcrisafi

    Can you not be wealthy and powerful and still be worthy of such  an honor? it is not wealth that makes you sinful.

  • Martin

    Depends how you got wealthy in the first place. It is almost always at someone elses expense.

  • Bernie

    Yes it is fair! He should not have it rescinded. He is serving the church and many when he contributes to build a Church. Ugly Church, who says? LOL!

  • AgingPapist

    Why revoke an honor given to a man who performs a great service to the entire world.  Better to bounce the bishops from their honors and force them into the desert to do penance. They’re expendable.  Murdoch isn’t.

  • Brian A Cook

    On the website that tracks the lies (alleged or real) of Fox News, there is a person who consistently brings up the professed Catholicism of several people at Fox News.  That person seems to imply that Fox News is a propaganda organ of the Vatican–Mother Church already has a problem with being seen as right-wing in nature.  But that is perhaps less important than the perception that one can buy papal honors.  I don’t know what the solution should be.  I just want to try to contribute to this discussion. 

  • Anonymous

    Rupert Murdoch owns the world’s largest propaganda outfit ( through which wars of choice are glorified and the empty promises of corporate feudalism are propogated at the expense of the workers and the destitue. 
    I am shocked.

  • Caiaphas

    No megalomaniac pornographer should ever have been given a Papal knighthood in the first place, let alone one with such a clear desire to dominate and completely control the thoughts of as many people as possible. Murdoch is a disgrace to humanity, and his knighthood is to the eternal and everlasting shame of the Church and every Catholic.

  • Bob Hayes

    Have we lost sight of Matthew 19:24? Jesus said, ‘Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven’. Rupert Murdoch has only an earthly decoration.

  • Anonymous

    Why in the world was he made a knight of anything? If we actually took the trouble to see what a knight is then we would see all the most important ideals missing from Murdoch: vows of service to God, honesty, loyalty and the willingness to defend the Catholic Church. If we compare “knights” today with their predecessors in the Middle Ages then we would be asked why we insult the name of knighthood.

  • Ratbag

    Ah, Rupert Murdoch. The man who owns those two eye-watering vats of premium faecal matter which are – at the same time – skilled in the corrupt art of being pots-calling-kettles-black and bearers of false witness… The Sun and the News of the World. The closing of one roll of recycled toilet paper – namely the News of the World – is an empty and cynical gesture of flaberghasting proportions. There should have been heads rolling like cheese down a steep hill! They will be back on Sundays, you watch!

    Rupert Murdoch, the man who owns Sky. EWTN is easier to access on Sky than through any other means apart from the internet. Try getting EWTN on Virgin Media or Freeview… you have a job!

    Did Mr Murdoch do any charitable works, apart from giving the paltry sum of $10million to build a cathedral to earn a Papal Knighthood?

    Well, he’s flawed like the rest of us, indeed so.

    I think that he should keep hold of his Papal gong… JUST for enabling a Catholic satellite channel to broadcast to millions around the world when others don’t or make it difficult for potential customers to exercise a choice and, at the same time, miss out on a financial opportunity – the fools!

    Murdoch should not have so much media power anyway.

  • John

    At least Murdoch doesn’t steal your money through force via taxation. And the biggest propaganda outfits are always governments (paid for by you, without your choice). I’d gladly pick a private worker over a taxpayer-dependent government worker.

  • John

    Actually, a wealthy person usually gets that way by offering a product or service that people want (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson etc etc etc). People too often demonise successful people who have made our lives better with goods and services that improve society. Envy is a shameful thing to see, particularly in Catholics who should know better.

  • Anonymous

    Rupert Murdoch is also a Companion of the Order of Australia – an order of chivalry whose sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II. A papal knight, of the Order of St Gregory, is basically a knight like any other. The pope, as sovereign of various orders, can award knighthoods to anyone he wishes. It is in his gift to award such an honour. Just as it’s in the Queen’s gift to knight men and women or to confer the peerage on certain individuals. 

    One need not be a saint to be a papal knight, just as one need not be one to be a knight of the United Kingdom (even if most of our British orders of chivalry are Christian, headed by a Christian monarch). But being awarded an honour like a Christian knighthood might inspire in the powerful a desire to live a more Christian life. In fact, one need not be a Catholic, or a Christian to receive a papal honour. Although, Murdoch was born a Catholic, he has been married three times, so is by no means a paragon of Catholic morality. I don’t think he’d view himself as such, either.

    It is a fact that these honours are given to wealthy men and women, to noblemen, or to celebrities. Some unknowns (for want of a better word) sometimes receive honours, too. But, that’s life, get over it. On judgement day, I believe it will be better not to have accepted honours in this world, so as to create a store of wealth in the world to come. But no one is forced to accept an honour. I wouldn’t want one, some seem obsessed by them.

    Murdoch has been generous to the Church in many ways and has been honoured by the pope as a “thank you”. End of. The papal honours system isn’t a democracy – just as our British one isn’t. Both are prone to abuse, though, of course. Rupert Murdoch has also been honoured by the Queen for his generosity and service. As far as I know, the man hasn’t committed a crime or been sentenced in a court of law. Even if he had, the honour that he holds is the pope’s (or queen’s) and derives from the graces that have been given them by God. And, as we know, we should never be jealous of the way in which God imparts his favours, even worldly ones through his earthly representatives. (By the way, there have been several Christian peers of the United Kingdom who have been imprisoned, but the Queen has not rescinded their honours).

    At the end of the day, I think we all know that papal knighthoods have nothing to do with one’s salvation. They derive from the pope’s temporal power and belong to the worldly realm. In that sense, then, it is entirely up to the Holy Father whether a man receives, keeps or loses his knighthood.

    The senior papal order of chivalry is the Supreme Order of Christ. One of its last knights was General Franco, who was awarded this special honour both for his services to the Church (he did save her in Spain!) and because he was a head of state (one of the necessary requirements for membership of the order). Some people might argue that Franco is in a completely different league of “baddies” than that which Murdoch might belong to!

  • Anonymous

    Because this is posited as an eitheror when it is no such thing – it is not the first time that a debate paradigm has been constructed where the ‘contrariety’ has been imposed fallaciously. Agreeing with RM’s knighthood being rescinded in no way necessarily negates any position on the awarding of knighthoods.

  • Parasum

    For the love of God – how can the question even be asked ?  As St Peter said to Simon Magus, “Thy money perish with thee” (Acts 8). The authorities in the Church never ever stop talking about the dignity of the human person, the evil of relativism, blah blah blah blah: the Pope is especially eloquent on such matters: and so, a papal knighthood is given to a pornographer – because, forsooth, he has given money to the Church. Apparently, owning many newspapers which degrade women by treating them as sex objects for bringing money by perverting the public is compatible with “the Gospel of Life”. I suppose that’s one way of interpreting “the Theology of the Body”. It’s not exactly “joined-up thinking”.

    I’ll believe the hierarchy, in Britain & elsewhere, are not morally vacuous pondscum, when they have the moral courage and unconcern for their own careers to give the Pope the dressing-down for honouring Murdoch by not withdrawing his honour that the Pope deserves. This could be a “teaching moment”. But will that happen ?

    In a healthy society, Murdoch would not be given so much as the time of day,let alone be honoured by the Pope. But we do not live in a healthy society – or a healthy Church.

  • Harper

    Murdoch should certainly be stripped of his knighthood. He should never in the first place have been awarded it. Not only does his latest behaviour and that of his company and his son disqualify him, he has been an enemy of anything that passes for decency for years. He loathes any hierarchy that does not have him or his son at the summit. He hates the monarchy because he cannot himself inhabit/buy its position, either in Australia or elsewhere. He failed, thank God, in assisting the subversion of the monarchy in Australia in 1999, when, despite loud voices from every corner of the media and chattering classes, the majority of the Australian electorate had the good sense to realise that he was trying to buy a future Australian presidency.Murdoch’s son James had the cheek at that time to suggest that the Queen was a “foreigner”, when he had just abandoned Australian citizenship and taken out US citizenship  (the Queen, of course, is not uniquely British – she happens to have been born in England but does not possess any passport, being a Sovereign, and is equally British, Canadian, Australia, New Zealander, Jamaican and the dozen plus realms of which she is sovereign). HM the Queen has, even her most cynical opponents acknowledge, a keen sense of duty to each of these realms and to the Commonwealth as a whole.  Murdoch, in contrast, together with James, his unelected hereditary heir to News International, have loyalty to no one, n Queen and no country, none except money.

  • Anonymous

    The truth matters!  The Holy Spirit is truth!
    You must not be homeless yet, but under the new corporate feudalism you soon could be.  Don’t get sick.  Hopefully, my shelter will be up and running by then!  I will help you.

  • Harper

    I should have added that Murdoch’s chequered marital life is interesting in this context. Has he ever sought annulments for any of his marriages? I am sure that like the Kennedys and the Grimaldis,  Murdoch’s largesses would come in handy (Albert’s spouse’s reputed attempts to flee before the marriage already constitute convenient grounds for annulment once the much-needed heir has emerged).. Writing as a doctrinally and liturgically traditional but not slavishly docile Catholic, I hav to say that Murdoch’s knighthood is a  corruption and a scandal and highlights the legal quackery that passes for several annulment Tribunals in England and Wales, in which petitioners lack the financial means and influence of the illustrious “Catholics” mentioned above. The obfuscating and Eastern Bloc/Kafkaesque proceedings of Annulment Tribunals, which the Murdochs, Grimaldis and others in the diocescan lotteries contend with very mildly, will soon be challenged, for even traditional and faithful Catholics will no longer put up with such manifestly gross injustice.

  • Harper

    Please see above for my response to this. I have no problem with Papal orders of chivalry; I would restore them all, including the Noble Guard (and the Pallotine Guard as well). Neither to I have a problem with wealthy appointees, but I – like many Catholics I am sure (indcluding traditionalists) – have grave  isssues when such appointments consitute a grave stumbling bloc, Reform is drastically needed.

  • penny

    Perhaps Rupert Murdoch is a thoroughly decent and faithful Catholic, but the newspapers and T.V. channels that he makes his money from are vile; they can sway public opinion to the extent of choosing the government, they drive the social acceptance of pornography and they publicly humiliate people with the greatest of relish. 
    I’ve just read this in William Oddie’s blog on liberation theology; he is quoting Newman:-

    ‘…. this well-ordered and divinely-governed world, with all its blessings of sense and knowledge, may lead us to neglect those interests which will endure when itself has passed away.… And hence it is that many pursuits in themselves honest and right, are nevertheless to be engaged in with caution, lest they seduce us; and those perhaps with especial caution, which tend to the well-being of men in this life. The sciences, for instance, of good government, of acquiring wealth, of preventing and relieving want, and the like, are for this reason especially dangerous; for fixing, as they do, our exertions on this world as an end, they go far to persuade us that they have no other end.’

     Can Rupert Murdoch be held personally responsible for the content of his publications and broadcasts? YES.  He takes the money and as a papal knight is seen by those who have not been given that honour as someone representing the values of the Catholic Church.  Should he lose the knighthood? that is up to his conscience and those who decided he was of worthy it.

  • penny

    Government workers are also tax payers.  Unlike private workers they can’t dodge their taxes and never get bonuses.  They very quickly hit a pay ceiling and bear the brunt of the cuts necessitated by the excesses of the private workers (banks in particular) who, having brought the country to its knees, continue to get huge bonuses because they are, well, “special” i.e. especially rich and therefore very close to the hearts of the multi-millionaires who comprise our current cabinet.

  • penny

    Yes, and Father Corapi is flawed like of us too.  The thing with a great big T.V channel devoted to Catholics is that you then expose the (flawed) presenters to the temptations accompanying celebrity.  Thus providing an extra source of income to news international as it bottom-feeds off the resulting scandals.

  • Freiherr von Cabrera

    Saying that Mr. Murdoch is a pornographer or a disgrace is not true. This comment has the only purpuse to attack the Catholic Church.

  • Donaldcwhite

    I just hate that the “heirarchy of the church” continues to prostitute the Church by selling out the honors of the Church.

    No difference than selling indulgences as far as I can see.

  • Donaldcwhite

    No truer words have been spoken.

  • Sandy

    Knighthoods are a mediaeval relic, be they awarded by the Pope or any other Soveriegn.  They are part of a game not to be taken seriously. I cannot see the point of them in the Church which should be focussed on helping the faithful find eternal life, and not handing out baubles on Earth to a privileged few.

  • Martin

    Like i said, it depends how they got wealthy…..the negative examples i had in mind were drug dealers, pimps ect not necessarily the guys mentioned above, i should have been clearer.

    As to the envy comment…..i’m happy for them and wouldnt want to swap places (well, maybe over the summer period for a nice holiday…but other than that..they are welcome to it).

  • Siobhan

    I agree with everything Harper says. I remember when Murdoch was given his reward from the Vatican, I genuinely thought it was a joke. When I asked a very traditional priest for his opinion on it he raised his eyes to heaven and said ‘I truly do not know what to say, I fear it is a question of money talks, but who knows?’. For what it is worth, in my opinion Murdoch’s press set the ball rolling for what is now known as ‘chav Britain’. When he launched Page 3 it was only a matter of time before others joined him in the race to the bottom, but the issue is he kick started the race. I hold no brief for Claire Short due to her pro abortion views but when she tried to put a bill through effectively banning soft porn in newspapers she was cruelly mocked and ridiculed by Murdoch’s press and much of their criticism centred on her personal attractiveness or lack of it. Thanks to Murdoch we now have an assortment of rags displaying various amounts of soft porn, all of them available to school children. As an ex teacher I can confirm that serious sexual harassment has taken place in schools where some boys display these papers as a means of belittling girls. Ironically it is mainly male teachers who get the most irritated by it. So aside from the big scale cruelty of phone hacking, an insidious poison has trickled throughout society from the nesting place of News International. How on earth can David ‘Ca moron’ talk about the sexualizing of school girls when his best mates run a whole business built on corruption. 

  • Gregory C. Jewell

    Should the Pope step down for what criminal priests have done to minors?  I am a Knight of St. Gregory and have owned my own business for a number of years; and yes, my employees have commited many, many mistakes that I was unaware of.  Do I condone them…no; but I cannot be everywhere at once.  Not like you!  What does being a Knight have to do with anything?

    Gregory C. Jewell
    Knight of St. Gregory
    Safety Harbor, Fla.

  • Carlos

    We all sin.I’d say try help the guy before trying to bring him down. Obviously his unscrupulous devotion to misery is not to be admired,but I’m sure there’s good in him that can be coaxed out.

  • Carlos

    A Christian monarch? Nobody has persecuted the Catholic church more than the British monarchy. Catholics,not just Murdoch,should note this irony when they accept awards from the Queen of England.

  • RJ

    That would be almost as bad as criticising the SSPX.

  • JeannieGuzman

    I genuinely like Rupert Murdoch, so the following comment doesn’t reflect upon my respect for Rupert, but rather the whole concept of Papal Knighthood.   I bet that God is laughing that men are so stupid to believe that if the Catholic Church honors them, then God will as well!  What a joke. Think of how the Catholic Church “honored” the Knights Templar!  They were hunted down and killed, en masse, on Friday the 13th in 1307.  It only goes to show that “Knights,” who were also monks, can be in favor with the Vatican one day, but when they outlive their usefullness, can be out of favor the next.  Fortunately, today they can’t be barbarically tortured by the Inquisition, before they are killed.  Regarding the current “Papal Knights,”  I think that God’s standards are leagues higher than the Catholic Church’s, otherwise we wouldn’t have had Pedophile Priests shuffled from one parish to another and their crimes covered up by inept bishops.

  • JeannieGuzman

    Kay:  Are you aware that the Holy Roman Catholic Church also “sells” marriage annulments (Question mark stuck).  Of course, She doesn’t call it “Selling Annulments,” rather it is “paying” for the services of the Archdiocese’s personnel and Canon Lawyers, who are so holy that they can’t possibly work for “Free!”  My guess is that many of them make as much as good divorce attorneys!  Then, there are refusals of annulments, but for ANOTHER FEE, an individual can challenge the grounds upon which the annulment was denied, which means more fees for the services of Archdiocese personnel and more Canon Lawyers in the States and in Rome.  Then, we have all of the Masses for the Dead, which believers pay upwards of $100 for, and they are “Outsourced” to India for the equivalent of about $500 in rupees, but you understand, that isn’t similar to selling indulgences, or at least that is the Church’s logic!  I wish that Jesus would again appear to drive the “Money-changers” out of the Church, and that he’d show up at the Vatican, first!

  • JeannieGuzman

    Kay, whatever Rupert does in his business endeavors, he does openly in his own name.  Now let’s look at the RCC.  They fought the Crusades, slaughtering many indigenous Christian and Jews, because “They looked like Muslims!”  She oversaw the slaughter countless thousands in the Inquisitions.  She encouraged “Pogroms against the Jews,” through Papal Encyclicals, in which countless millions of Jews died over the centuries, and She did it ALL in Her own name, and claimed that She did so under the authority mandated to Her by God.  In other words, She did all of the above, “In the Name of God!”  Whether one like Rupert’s politics or way of doing business, at least Rupert isn’t blasphemous and uses his own name, rather than invoking “The holy name of God!”

  • irishsmile

    This is just ‘Catholic bashing’.  My daughter went through the annulment process in Oregon.  Took over two years and there were some office type fees that were very minimal, a few hundred but it was absolutley not even close to the cost of her divorce ($12,000).  Additionally, as the mom of a priest, I know that it is absolutley untrue that Masses for the dead are ‘outsourced ‘ to India.  Let’s stick to the topic and stop the Catholic vitriol.

  • irishsmile

    Again, non-sequitur ‘Catholic Bashing’.  Get a life, start loving & stop hating.

  • Desmond Daly

    Reader Guzman’s remarks are most unfair to the RC Church in England. The figures she quotes are just not true. It is true that certain fees (stipends) are expected from parishioners for services rendered, such as funerals, weddings, annulments, etc.. The reason the Church expects to receive these stipends is to keep herself solvent. She cannot rely on the generosity of parishioners because stewardship of time, talent and treasure is just not forthcoming from the people in the pews. It really is as simple as that. People, be more generous to the offertory plate if you want to see the abolishment of stipends.

  • Caiaphas

    Even a cursory glance at Mr Murdoch’s revolting tabloids will show that he is indeed a pornographer. The comment had nothing to do with the Church, except that his knighthood is thoroughly shameful because of his manifest moral corruption.

  • Wenner

    From his modus operandi and modus vivendi it appears Murdoch has no conscience.  By their fruits ye shall know them — a bad tree does not produce good fruit, nor a good tree bad fruit. He’s a sorry excuse for a Christian Knight, as any Catholic Boy Scout would tell you.  

  • EditorCT

    Murdoch brought the “Page 3 girls” to this land.  For this demeaning of women as sexual objects alone, no Catholic should be speaking in his defence.  Please  don’t try to imply  that Murdoch is somehow a defender of the Catholic Church.  To attack Murdoch’s diabolical empire is to attack the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church? What are you on? T

  • EditorCT

     You are obviously not a member of the Planet Earth.  Where, pray tell me, is  the SSPX NOT criticized?

    Read any Catholic Herald blogs lately?

  • LorenzoNY

    Of course it should be rescinded.  His whole career was built on sleaze journalism.  I can’t imagine why he was given  a knighthood to begin with.  His knighthood is a testimony to the raw power of money, irregardless of principle.  If the Church stands for truth how could it award such an honor to a man who has made himself filthy rich by distorting and twisting the truth for decades. Cardinal Mahoney’s record on protecting pedophile priests is   one of the world’s worst.  Now we can add his Murdoch accolades to the list.  It is too bad because he was onle of the last progressive American bishops.  Good riddance to him.  Hopefully Murdoch’s flim flam misinformation empire will start to dwindle.  I cant’t wait for the Faux/Fox News Network to implode.