The Tablet Blog
Return the Murdoch moneyCatherine Pepinster
15 July 2011, 16:00
Unlike most of the congregation at the papal Mass at Westminster Cathedral last September, James Murdoch did not have to crane his neck to get his only sight of the Pope. He met him personally just before the Mass; the photograph taken by the Vatican photographer and reproduced in this week's Tablet shows him bowing low over the outstretched hand of Benedict XVI. Mr Murdoch was one of a large group of benefactors who got to meet the Pope, one by one, that Saturday morning. What they had in common were generous gifts to the papal visit fund, of around £100,000 each.
Enjoying a few private moments with the Holy Father in return for a donation does have a touch of 'cash for access' about it, made plainer by the fact that when one of the party leaders who were also meeting the Pope before the Saturday Mass, asked to bring along a devout Catholic constituent to meet Benedict, the response was that this was inappropriate.
Revelations about phone hacking at the News of the World and allegations about other unethical journalistic practices at The Sun and The Sunday Times are coming thick and fast, but one stands out above all others: the culture of the News of the World made it acceptable to hack the phone of a missing child and delete her voicemail messages, thereby giving the parents of that young girl, Milly Dowler, hope that she was still alive and was still using her phone.
Do Catholics really want their memories of one of the greatest occasions in their national Church's history to be sullied by links to the corrupt and the cruel? A welcome gesture now would be to return the Murdoch money and find other ways of replenishing the Church coffers.
Catherine Pepinster is the editor of The Tablet.
You can read the full text of this column in this week's edition of The Tablet.
22 July 2011 17:17 (9 of 9)
Oh by the way if you give large a enough donation to the vatican then you can become a papal knight or a knight of the holy sephulcure or something. Of course you have to be male. Rupert Murdoch is a papal knight.
22 July 2011 17:11 (8 of 9)
May I quote from the bible on the Vatican webpage http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__PWZ.HTM Luke 16-9 ' I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.' Just something to think about before judging. Anyway all money is tainted and yes access to the Holy Father can be gained through cash. I've seen it happen many times.
21 July 2011 12:06 (7 of 9)
Perhaps, the writer would have the Church refund all money donated by sinners before our individual judgement day.
21 July 2011 9:50 (6 of 9)
Strange that there is so much upset about the Murdochs, while Robert Mugabe's presence at papal occasions goes unnoticed. Stranger is the uproar about hacking while the starvation in Somalia gets barely a mention. Surely a reality check is necessary.
18 July 2011 12:12 (5 of 9)
Peter Allott has a point there. Much of our commerce (money) may be tainted and yet it becomes the value in our weakness that we might seek to advance the kingdom by giving of ourselves. If our 'money' is derived from our worldly endeavours then there are ways in which it may be fairly said to be tainted. Might such giving be seen as reflecting personal reparation? Fortunately we are redeemed in Christ; relax, believe and love
17 July 2011 15:24 (4 of 9)
Spot on Catherine. We have been tainted by too many smells over the last years. The Murdoch empire should never have been entertained - 'When you sup with the devil......'
16 July 2011 8:06 (3 of 9)
Exactly, Peter Allott (15/7). You are spot on.
15 July 2011 9:58 (2 of 9)
In other words we might all behave differently with the benefit of hindsight.
15 July 2011 9:30 (1 of 9)
A few weeks ago Elena Curti suggested the Rosminians should empty their coffers to compensate victims of child abuse and now Catherine Pepinster is suggesting the Church should return the Â£100,000 donated by the Murdochs for the Pope's visit. Is it the editorial policy of 'The Tablet' to bankrupt the English Church? The Murdoch's have not been found guilty of any crime and their English newspapers account for a small fraction of their income and wealth. All the money the Church receives comes from sinners. The logic of Pepinster's argument would presumably mean that charities in receipt of donations from the Church should also refuse the money as its leadership has been tainted by the illegal actions of some of its employees.