Papal knighthood honour for Catholics’ media champion
The Chairman of the Universe Media Group has been honoured with a papal knighthood, and has used the news to urge his fellow Catholics worldwide to make their views and presence felt. Pope Francis conferred a papal knighthood on Clive Leach CBE, and made him a member of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great.
The knighthood is in recognition of the faithful service Mr Leach has given to supporting the mission of the Catholic Church through publications and media communication.
Mr Leach, who has been chairman of the Universe Media Group – publishers of The Universe, The Catholic Times, and The Official Catholic Directory of England and Wales – since 1996, admitted that the papal knighthood came as a surprise, explaining that he believes in doing things because it is for the good, rather than seeking rewards.
“I’m very grateful that the powers that be have seen it right and proper to make this award,” Mr Leach told The Universe. The chairman said he was particularly pleased with the words of the Bishop of Leeds, Marcus Stock, who met with Mr Leach and his wife in person and informed them of how important his service was to the Catholic Church.
“I think that’s a very clear accolade for all the staff, that the things we do are very important and vital to the Church and it’s greatly thought of certainly by the Bishops’ Conference and the whole Church,” added Mr Leach.
He said the bishop’s words also underline what the Universe Media Group’s mission is – “to take the Catholic word, the Catholic view, the Catholic opinion and spread it around the world because there’s a need to do that”.
Mr Leach also stressed that the Catholic press is not only important but “of vital necessity”. “It’s vital to the Church,” he said.
“We all know that faith generally is under the microscope every day in the national media. There are questions about it and comments about it and I think we, the Catholics from around the world need to be making our views and presence felt.” He added that supporting the Catholic press is very important because, unlike other areas of the press, it has a particular role and function.
“I believe deeply in it – I believe what we’re about, I’m a practising Catholic and I believe in what we say, do and follow, so it’s only natural to follow that,” he said.
“I’d like to see more togetherness and coherence right across the world by Catholics and I think we have to play a part in stitching it all together and getting the 1.3 billion Catholic people worldwide to think about the same things – that’s the driving force,” he said, adding: “this is the importance of making all of our publications digitally available across all of the world.”
Meanwhile, Bishop Stock admitted he was “delighted” to inform Mr Leach about the knighthood. “It is a special honour which recognises the very great contribution that Clive has made to the mission of the Church in England and Wales,” he told The Universe.
“In his humility, I know that Clive will see it not as a recognition of his own achievements but of all those who have worked for the Universe Media Group over many years.”
Universe CEO and Editorial Director Joseph Kelly also said staff at the Universe Media Group were “delighted” at the news.
“Clive has never flinched in his firm conviction that the Catholic press has a vitally important role to play in getting the Catholic perspective across in the modern world,” he told The Universe.
“He’s supported us all so well over the past two decades, and has always encouraged us to make a stand whenever Catholic concerns were at stake.
“With his wife Stephanie, he has also supported the wider Catholic community and many causes tirelessly – this award is truly deserved.”Tags: award, clive, gregory, leach, papal