By Hilary White

LONDON, January 7, 2008 ( – Catholics have no right to criticise either Tony Blair’s decision to enter the Catholic Church or the Archbishop of Westminster’s decision to receive him, says a Church spokesman. Shortly after the announcement of Tony Blair’s reception just before Christmas into the Catholic Church, a highly placed “church source” blasted critics who called the Archbishop of Westminster a publicity-seeking hypocrite and Blair a major “architect” of the “culture of death”.

A storm of protest arose from Catholics and others at the announcement of Blair’s reception into the Church by Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, in a ceremony in the latter’s private chapel December 21. While the cardinal had warm praises for Blair as he received the former Prime Minister, the Daily Mail quoted “church sources” who chastised the critics.

The Mail’s source said, “Whatever he previously believed or did is a matter for individual conscience.”

The Mail did not reveal the identity of the speaker, but it is known that Blair underwent four months of “formal preparation” under the personal supervision of Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s private secretary, Monsignor Mark O’Toole.

“The Vatican welcomed his decision ‘with respect and joy’, so if the Pope is welcoming it, it seems a little strange that some English Catholics are questioning it,” the Church spokesman said.

The Mail’s source was referring to a comment by Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi who said that the Church was “happy to welcome such a prominent person … at the end of a deeply spiritual personal path.”

But the reasons for the “questioning” are clear. Blair’s aggressive and so far un-recanted support for legislation and policies that seriously contradict his purported Catholic leanings were itemized by John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in a December 22 press release.

“During his premiership, Tony Blair became one of the world’s most significant architects of the culture of death—promoting abortion, experiments on human embryos, including on cloned human embryos, and euthanasia by neglect,” he said.

Smeaton added, “SPUC is writing to Tony Blair to ask him whether he has repented of the anti-life positions he has so openly advocated throughout his political career.”

The questions could come too from Blair’s position as one of the most relentless promoters of his government’s Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR’s), heavily criticised by Murphy O’Connor as well as the Anglican Archbishop of Cantebury as an attack on religious freedom. Blair told homosexual activists at a celebration banquet that he had done a “little skip” of joy at seeing photos of the first “gay marriage” ceremonies in Northern Ireland. 

Blair has been perfectly clear that his support for the gay activist agenda, at least until he left office last year, remained wholehearted and that he regards the changes that were made under his premiership as a significant part of his political legacy.

Ann Widdecombe, a Conservative Party Member of Parliament and a convert to the Catholic Church, commented to the Sunday Times reported December 23, pointing to Blair’s anti-Catholic voting record, “My question would be, has he changed his mind on that?”

Even non-Catholics have criticised Murphy O’Connor’s action in receiving Blair “just before Christmas” calling it “a publicity stunt the sheer hypocrisy of which beggars belief.”

“Could it be that the Catholic Church has joined the masses in worshipping at the altar of celebrity and cares little for the morality of their famous converts?” asked Leslie Rowe, Green Party candidate in Brompton-on-Swale, Richmond, in the Yorkshire Post.

An anonymous commenter at the weblog of Telegraph columnist Damien Thompson summed up the reaction of many, saying, “Is the cardinal saying that because this man’s a celebrity he’s allowed to believe what he wants and do what he wants? It certainly appears so!”

To respectfully contact the Archdiocese of Westminster:
Vaughan House,
46 Francis Street,
Archbishop’s House: 020 7798 9033

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