By Hilary White
April 8, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In separate media venues this week, former British Prime Minister and his wife have attacked Pope Benedict XIV and the Catholic teaching on homosexuality and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.
In an interview with Attitude, a homosexual magazine, Tony Blair said that Pope Benedict’s objection to homosexual behaviour is a "generational" issue and that any change in Catholic teaching on the matter is resisted by Church leaders because of "fear" among religious leaders of changing with the times.
Blair said, "We need an attitude of mind where rethinking and the concept of evolving attitudes becomes part of the discipline with which you approach your religious faith."
Asked if he could foresee a future in which the Catholic Church would be led by a "pro-gay" pope, Blair said there are "many fantastic things this pope stands for," but that his views on sexuality are not shared by the majority of Catholics.
"If you went into any Catholic Church, particularly a well-attended one, on any Sunday here and did a poll of the congregation, you’d be surprised at how liberal-minded people were.
"I think on some of these issues, if you went and asked the congregation, I think you’d find that their faith is not to be found in those types of entrenched attitudes."
Interviewer Johann Hari wrote that in a "controversial" political career, Tony Blair’s one "consistent success story" was his championing of the homosexualist political movement in Britain.
Tony Blair was received into the Catholic Church in December 2007 by Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, the archbishop of Westminster. At the time, pro-life and pro-family people, including many prominent Catholics, called upon Blair, without success, to recant his opposition to Catholic teaching on homosexuality, marriage, abortion and human embryonic research.
Since his reception into the Catholic Church, Blair has established the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, in which he is attempting to establish himself as a spokesman for a generic and non-specific "faith" as a unifying principle in global politics. Describing the aims of his Foundation, Blair said it is "trying to bring different religious faiths together, to show how, actually, there is a huge common space around these values between the different religious faiths."
Calling Blair "probably the most prominent pro-gay religious figure in the world," Hari wrote that Blair is urging "religious figures everywhere to reinterpret their religious texts to see them as metaphorical, not literal." This, he says, will result in the religions of the world in accepting "gay people as equals."
Blair said that he found no conflict between being "religious" and "pro-gay." "I came to a religious faith through people who were themselves very much open and liberal on all these issues, and who would have regarded it as bizarre to have attitudes of hostility to gay people."
He said, "For all religions, the challenge is how do you extract the essential values of the faith from a vast accumulation of doctrine and practice?"
At the same time, Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, told the Times of Malta that she was "rather sad" when she heard Pope Benedict’s assertion that condoms only increase the problem of AIDS, during his recent visit to Africa.
"I think we do have to understand that there is concern about promiscuity," she said. "But there’s also a real concern about saving lives and I absolutely believe, and scientific evidence shows, that condoms do save lives. Therefore, when there’s a choice between endangering and not endangering life, we should always choose life."
Mrs. Blair went on to defend her very public refusal to conform to the teaching of the Church on contraception. "I think it’s a matter of personal conscience in the end. I don’t feel bad about making those choices and I don’t feel the Catholic Church feels bad about me making those choices," she says.
Mrs. Blair, a firm supporter of the abortion group Planned Parenthood, has consistently equated the use of artificial contraceptives with women’s rights. In early March, Mrs. Blair told the BBC that she credited her personal success as a barrister to her use of contraceptives and called the Catholic Church a "sexist" organisation which "marginalizes" women and keeps them "virtually invisible" in its public face.
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Cherie Blair Says Catholic Church Sexist, Credits Personal Success to Contraception
Blair Formally Refuses to Respond to Abortion and Embryo Research Questions after "Conversion" to Catholicismhttp://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08041406.html
Angelicum University Refuses to Believe Cherie Blair’s Pro-abortion and Anti-Family Reputation
Full Text of Cherie Blair Speech at Angelicum: Sticks to Support for Contraception, Dodges Abortion Question