How did the Catholic church react to Jimmy Savile’s crimes and did his knighthoods get revoked?

Scottish Daily Express [Glasgow, Scotland]

October 16, 2023

By Mark Connor

The life and crimes of paedophile Jimmy Savile is under the spotlight once again and one of the main themes of drama The Reckoning is his supposed devotion to his Catholic faith

Jimmy Savile hid behind many things to commit his horrific sex crimes including endless charity work and an apparent fun-loving personality. But one other major trait he used for his own sordid good was his apparent devotion to the Catholic faith.

As shown in the newly released BBC drama into his life The Reckoning, the beast regularly attended mass and even sexually abused at least one young girl in a Catholic church during services. Due to his charity work and faith, he was given a papal knighthood by Pope John-Paul II in 1990.

The Steve Coogan-starring drama delves into the paedophile’s life, in which he regularly calls the Pope a close friend and someone he knows well before eventually having one of the highest awards in the church bestowed upon him. Following his monstrous crimes being unearthed, the Catholic church were put under pressure to distance itself from Savile.

In 2012, the Vatican’s official spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Holy See “firmly condemns the horrible crimes of sexual abuse of minors,” adding it considered the Savile revelations as “very grave”. He added: “It is deeply saddened that a person who has been soiled in this way could in his lifetime have been proposed for an honour by the Holy See, which in the light of recent information should certainly not have been bestowed.”

Father Lombdardi went on: “As there does not exist any permanent official list of persons who have received papal honours in the past, it is not possible to strike anyone off a list that does not exist. The names of recipients of papal honours do not appear in the Pontifical Year Book and the honour 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. The Holy See is adamant on this point.”

The Catholic church of England and Wales wrote to the Pope in a bid to have the papal knighthood removed posthumously. However, in a bizarre twist, the Vatican said it could NOT remove the honour because there is no official book which lists those who have been given it.

Savile also received a knighthood in the UK for his charity work. Then Prime Minister David Cameron said there was no honour to revoke there either. He said a knighthood is a living honour and when the receiver dies, so does their knighthood.

The Forfeiture Committee said: “The Forfeiture Committee can confirm that had James Wilson Vincent Savile been convicted of the crimes of which he is accused, forfeiture proceedings would have commenced.”

Jimmy Savile and Pope John Paul II
Jimmy Savile and Pope John Paul II