Tony Blair “Not a Good Guide to the Teachings of the Catholic Church”: New Archbishop of Westminster



By Hilary White

LONDON, May 25, 2009 ( - The newly installed Archbishop of the Catholic diocese of Westminster, recently told Times columnist Dominic Lawson in an interview that former Prime Minister Tony Blair is not someone worthy of trust on religious matters. Archbishop Vincent Nichols called it "extraordinary" that Blair should have presumed to "lecture" the Pope on moral issues in an interview last month.

In April Blair gave an interview to a homosexualist magazine in which he attacked Pope Benedict XIV and the Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Nichols, however, said that Blair’s strong "political instincts," are "not a good guide to the teachings of the Catholic Church."

He continued, saying that "a bit more reflection is needed as to the relationship between political instinct in general - and certainly his - and the nature of the truth that the Church tries to put forward.

"Maybe he lacks a bit of experience in Catholic life."

Nichols, usually described as a "conservative" by the British press, is widely credited with having helped spearhead the fight against the Blair government’s legislation that caused many of the British Catholic adoption agencies either to close or secularise in the face of new requirements that they allow adoption by homosexual partners.

At his May 21st installation Mass at Westminster Cathedral in London, Nichols urged Catholics to express themselves confidently in the public square. "Faith is never a solitary activity, nor can it be simply private," he said. "Faith in Christ always draws us into a community and has a public dimension."

In the Times, Lawson described Nichols, the former archbishop of Birmingham, as "still seething" over the adoption agency issue and describes him as never having "been afraid of taking the battle to the politicians when he feels his church is under attack."

He quotes the Nichols saying, "We have been pushed out unnecessarily ... It was a disproportionate response [by the government] and the victims are the children, not the church."

Nichols said that all government adoption agencies except for the 11 Catholic ones accepted homosexual partners for consideration for adoptions, and therefore the Catholic agencies should have been allowed to opt out of the law.

However, critics of the archbishop’s reasoning point out that by the archbishop’s own admission, his own Birmingham Catholic adoption agency had "for years" been accepting single homosexuals as potential adopters against the teachings of the Church. In 2007, at the height of the adoption agency controversy, Nichols told the BBC in an interview that his agency was happy to adopt children out to single homosexuals but that the objection was only to those in legally recognised domestic arrangements.

The Birmingham diocesan agency would also allow single non-homosexuals and unmarried but cohabiting heterosexual couples to be considered.  However, the teaching of the Catholic Church says that to allow children to be adopted into irregular domestic situations, including with homosexual partners, unmarried single people or unmarried "common-law" partners, constitutes an act of "violence" to their natural development. Children, the Church teaches, have the right to be raised in the context of the natural family, with a mother and a father.

Critics have also pointed out that as head of the archdiocese of Birmingham, Nichols, with the rest of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, had been fully briefed by an expert on Britain’s discrimination laws that it was unnecessary for any Catholic adoption agency either to close or secularise. "Regulation 18" in the law allows them to operate according to their religious beliefs said Neil Addison, a barrister and the author of a textbook, "Religious Discrimination and Hatred Law."

Addison told that there was no need under the law for any Catholic adoption agency in the UK to close or secularize, if they had been acting in accordance with Catholic teaching, or willing to change their practices to do so. Addison claims that the bishops were complicit in the closure or secularisation of the adoption agencies due to their unwillingness to fight for the religious nature of the agencies.

Addison told LSN that, with the exception of Bishop Patrick O’Donohue of Lancaster, the bishops of the Catholic Church of England and Wales simply ignored the existence of Regulation 18, claiming in the media that the government was forcing their adoption agencies to close.

Read related coverage:

Tony and Cherie Blair Attack Pope on Homosexuality and Condoms

UK Catholic Adoption Agencies Voluntarily Refuse Religious Opt-Out Clause for Homosexual Adoption

Birmingham Archbishop: "Oh by the way," Britain’s Catholic Adoption Agencies Already Adopt to Gay Singles

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