Thursday November 29, 2007

British Clergy Say Blair Must Renounce Anti-Life, Anti-Family Views Before Becoming Catholic

Former PM reveals he was afraid of being seen as “nutter” for stating religious aspirations

By Hilary White

LONDON, November 29, 2007 ( – In a recent interview, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair revealed that the reason he was reticent about making public his religious aspirations was his fear that politicians with overt religious beliefs are seen as “nutters” in Britain. It is Britain’s pervading secularist mentality, not any official disapproval of Catholicism in this officially Protestant country that held him back he said.

In contrast to the US, he said, “You talk about it in our system and frankly, people do think you’re a nutter.”

But Rumours that Blair, nominally an adherent of “high church” Anglicanism, will be received shortly into the Catholic Church during a private ceremony at the residence of the Archbishop of Westminster, has elicited strong concerns from some British Catholic priests. Throughout his premiership, which began with a landslide Labour victory in 1997, Blair was rumoured to attend Catholic Masses with his wife, Cherie Blair, a strongly pro-abortion Catholic and reputed follower of New Age ideas.

Fr. Timothy Finigan, a London Catholic priest and founder of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life, wrote that Blair would need to publicly repudiate his public position on issues like abortion, embryo experimentation and homosexual civil unions. Fr. Finigan said, “Conversion to the Catholic faith would imply that he now accepts Catholic teaching and is willing to witness publicly to it.”

In 2004, after Blair was reprimanded by Basil Cardinal Hume, then Archbishop of Westminster, for receiving Holy Communion despite not being a Roman Catholic, it was widely reported that Blair had defied this and had been receiving Communion in a Catholic church he attended with his family. Shortly before he stepped down as Prime Minister, he informed Pope Benedict XVI that he wanted to become a Catholic.

But Blair’s actual religious beliefs appear to be far from solidly founded in Catholic teaching and belief. Some Catholic priests outside the high-level episcopal and political circles cite Blair’s key political participation in the “collapse of morals” in Britain as reason to question his interest in Catholicism.

Fr. John Boyle, a priest and canon lawyer in South Ashford in Kent, told that before being received, Blair would need to publicly repudiate many of his positions to “avoid giving scandal and confusing the faithful”.

Fr. Boyle specified Blair’s vehement support for the homosexual political cause, his “vocal promotion of embryo research and human cloning, his public criticism of the Church’s teaching concerning condoms…his promotion of increased contraceptive services to children and of the abortifacient morning-after pill to women and girls of whatever age, his advocacy of homosexual rights.”

In January this year, Fr. Boyle contacted Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, who as Archbishop of Westminster would be responsible for Blair’s instruction, on Blair’s reportedly imminent reception into the Church.

Fr. Boyle revealed that the Cardinal responded that he had not “had a conversation” with the then-Prime Minister on any of these issues. The Cardinal wrote, “If or when he may decide to become a Catholic, naturally some of his seeming views on matters of Church doctrine would have to be discussed with him.” At the time of writing, the Cardinal had “no indication from (Mr Blair) of his wish to become a Catholic.”

Fr. Finigan wrote, “I pray for Mr Blair’s conversion to the Catholic faith. It would be wonderful if he were to be a public supporter of the pro-life cause in reparation for the damage done to human life under his government.” He added, “But simply going through a ceremony will be of little value if he remains committed to the anti-life legislation that he and his government supported.”

In 2006, British Catholic writer Joanna Bogle blasted Blair, who left office in June this year, saying, “Blair has played a major political role in ensuring the collapse of morals in our country.”

Fr. Ray Blake, a blogging priest at Brighton’s St. Mary Magdalene parish, wrote in agreement. Citing particularly the Blair couple’s New Age predilections, Fr. Blake wrote, “If only one of our Bishop’s was as outspoken in their condemnation of this couple who in their public lives contradict so much that the Catholic Church teaches and demands from its members.”

Fr. Boyle told, “It could be a scandal because of his known views which are anti-life and there should be some assurance that he’s changed his views and repented.” Nevertheless, Fr. Boyle said he would not be “at all surprised” if the rumoured reception by the Cardinal went forward.

Fr. Boyle said that in the Church in Britain, “there is a problem” with high-level Churchmen “trying to have a cosy relationship with people in power. I think the Church has been too cosy with Tony Blair.” He added, “If Blair happened to be on holiday here and attended Mass, I’d find it very awkward to give him Holy Communion.”

Read’s editorial:
Before Tony Blair Becomes Catholic He Must Renounce Anti-Life and Anti-Family Stands ;

Read related coverage:
Britain Dragging Other Countries into Ethical and Moral Abyss ~ SPUC Director

Read related coverage in the Spectator:
Will Blair become a true Catholic?
Blair may be about to convert, but will that make him a Catholic?…