The 'top 100' most influential lay Catholics in the Uk are named in this week's Tablet. Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC heads the list, with Education Secretary Ruth Kelly, Cherie Booth, a successful lawyer and wife of the Prime Minister in second and third place. Speaking on the BBC's Today Programme this morning, Tablet editor Catharine Pepinster said the list had been compiled for two main reasons: firstly to celebrate the acceptance of Catholics in British society when only 50 years ago they had faced a good deal of discrimination; and secondly to celebrate th integration of so many immigrants who are Catholic and contribute so much to British life. She mentioned that the list also included Catholics who no longer formally practise, such as Claire Short, but whose work have been influenced by their religious background. The Duchess of Kent, the first senior Royal to convert since 1701, is ranked 13th. John Reid, the Defence Secretary, is placed 15th, while film director Anthony Minghella, comes in at 18. The Witchalls family, including Abigail, the pregnant mother paralysed in a knife attack, are collectively described as "Catholicism's best advertisement" and put in 14th place. The former ministers Clare Short and Ann Widdecombe are both listed at 42 and 48 respectively. The top ten most influential lay Catholics, according to The Tablet are: 1 Mark Thompson, the BBC director general 2 Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary 3 Cherie Booth, lawyer and Prime Minister's wife 4 Sir Peter Sutherland, chairman of BP and Goldman Sacks Int 5 Sir Gus O'Donnell, Cabinet Secretary 6 Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons 7 Jose Mourinho, Chelsea manager 8 Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco 9 Delia Smith, cook 10 Robert Thomson, editor of The Times
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