The Vatican has said it cannot rescind the papal knighthood awarded to television star Jimmy Savile, however the honour dies with the individual.
Savile, a well-known BBC children's television host who died last year at the age of 84, has emerged as an alleged child sex predator after his death.
Savile was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 1990.
The Catholic Church of England said it has contacted the Holy See to ask it to posthumously revoke Savile's honour in recognition of the "deep distress" of the victims allegedly abused by Savile, a well-known BBC children's television host who died last year at the age of 84.
But the Vatican spokesman, the Reverend Federico Lombardi said that the names of people who receive the knighthood do not appear in its yearbook and that the honour dies with the individual.
Mr Lombardi said Savile never would have received the honour had the truth about his behaviour been known.
Savile's family break silence
Jimmy Savile's closest relatives today broke their silence to say their "own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims" who were abused by the late TV presenter.
The Metropolitan Police Force is investigating over 300 claims of abuse against Savile, who died last year.
In a statement released by Savile's nephew, Roger Foster, the family said: "How could the person we thought we knew and loved do such a thing?
"Why would a man who raised so much money for charity, who gave so much of his own time and energy for others, risk it all doing indecent criminal acts?
"How could anyone live their life doing the "most good and most evil" at the same time?"
In the statement, released to the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper, the family explains why they wanted Savile's headstone removed, even though it had been unveiled only a couple of weeks earlier.
The family said: "We became more aware of the outrage that many members of the public were feeling.
"We took the decision to remove and destroy the headstone so that it couldn't become a focus for malicious people.
"The decision was a difficult one to make, but we knew it was the right one."
The family said their thoughts and prayers were with those who had suffered abuse.
"We recognise that even our own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims," they said.