LONDON (CWN) - British Catholics are deluging the Vatican, local bishops, and Catholic newspapers with complaints this week over the award of a papal knighthood to Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

      Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of St. Gregory in southern California last month in recognition of generous contributions made to Catholic causes, but Catholics from Australia to the United States to Britain and Ireland have responded with outrage. "They are complaining mostly that the newspapers and satellite channels he owns are responsible for purveying soft pornography, the Sun especially," said Deborah Jones of the Catholic Herald newspaper. Others have complained that Murdoch uses predatory business tactics to run his competition out of business.

      "Some are looking at the monopoly effect, the pricing out of other newspapers and the fact that Rupert Murdoch has a particular political agenda and he is well-known for his republicanism," Jones said. "They can't see that his work justifies a papal knighthood and think it's a question of giving large sums of money." A well-known Murdoch rival, Conrad Black, is one of the publishers of the Catholic Herald, but Jones denied this had an effect on coverage of the award.

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February 18, 1998 volume 9, no. 35          DAILY CATHOLIC