The Vatican has forgiven The Beatles on the 40th anniversary of their break-up – as sex scandals continue to rock the Catholic Church.
Absolving the British group of their excesses involving ‘drugs and blasphemy’, the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano hailed them as a ‘precious jewel’.
In a front-page article, it said: ‘It’s true they took drugs, lived life to excess because of their success, even said they were bigger than Jesus and put out mysterious messages, that were possibly even Satanic.
Forgiven: The Beatles (from left, George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney) during their first U.S. tour in 1964. The Vatican has called them a ‘precious jewel’
‘They may not have been the best example for the youth of the day but they were by no means the worse. Their beautiful melodies changed music and continue to give pleasure.
‘Thirteen albums changed the history of popular music and there is little else to add. The Beatles were the most famous and acclaimed band in the world.’
The newspaper said ‘dozens of bands had been inspired by them and groups still produce cover versions of their songs’ and that their ‘long-lasting phenomenon would remain music history’.
The decision to heap praise on the group in the middle of a series of sex-abuse scandals raised eyebrows among commentators.
One said: ‘With all that is going on within the Church, to write about The Beatles instead of focusing on the scandal of abusive clergy does seem rather odd.’
Two years ago the Vatican forgave John Lennon for saying The Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ, saying it was the ‘boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success’.