London, April 12 (ANI): Former rock band The Beatles has received absolution from the Vatican for their infamous comment that they were 'bigger than Jesus'.
Their enthusiastic pursuit of sex, drugs and the rock and roll lifestyle at the height of their fame had done little to convince the Vatican they were anything other than a thoroughly bad influence.
But now in a move sanctioned by Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church has offered the Fab Four its official seal of approval, forgiving them their various excesses and even lauding them as a "precious jewel".
In a front-page article the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, offered a glowing assessment of The Beatles' achievements 40-years after they split.
In an astonishing turnaround the Church dismissed previous moral outrages including blasphemous remarks, drug taking and even the dissemination of satanic messages through their music.
"Its 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," the Telegraph quoted L'Osservatore Romano as stating in an article entitled 'Seven Years That Shook Music'.
"They may not have been the best example for the youth of the day but they were by no means the worst. Their beautiful melodies changed music and continue to give pleasure.
"Forty years later the Beatles still astound with their originality and they are a consolation against the continual assault on music lovers by the record industry," it said.
And referring to the band's acrimonious split in April 1970, the article added: "Rather then expressing regret at their break up perhaps the question should be what would pop music have been like without the Beatles?"
The glowing praise may come as a surprise to many Catholics, given the band's very public attacks on organised religion.
John Lennon sparked international condemnation by Christians of all denominations when he famously declared in 1966 that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus.
"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first rock 'n' roll or Christianity," he had stated in an interview at that time.
At the time Catholic church was at the forefront of the attacks on the remarks, but two years ago forgave Lennon for his comments, insisting it had merely been the "boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success". (ANI)