Update: Blair Declined to Attend Catholic Youth Conference in Rome



By Hilary White

October 17, 2008 ( - A spokesman for the organisers of the Catholic youth conference in Rome told today that although former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair was invited to deliver the keynote address at the conference, he ultimately declined to attend.

Conference organisers confirmed that Blair had been invited to deliver the address by conference organisers, despite his position as one of the "principal architects" of what the late Pope John Paul II called the world-wide "culture of death."

The spokesman told that Mr. Blair had been considered as a speaker for the conference, that has as its theme the teachings of John Paul II, because he is the founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and because he has spoken on "globalisation and faith" at Yale University. The spokesman said that this would have made him an "interesting" speaker. Blair’s non-appearance at the conference was not the decision of conference organisers but of Mr. Blair himself.

The spokesman would say only that conference organisers were "happy with the decision" made by Mr. Blair not to appear.

John Smeaton, director of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children told that the whole affair is "appalling," and that it is "outrageous" that so prominent an opponent of the Catholic Church on key issues of life and family was invited to speak in the first place.

"The point I make," Smeaton said, "is that a public figure, especially one who reportedly continues to aspire to political appointments, cannot protect himself from public scrutiny by being received into the Catholic Church."

Smeaton also pointed out that Blair’s Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the ostensible reason why the invitation was extended to Blair in the first place, is affiliated with some of the most vigorous proponents of abortion-on-demand in the international scene.

The Faiths Act Fellowship, coordinated by the Interfaith Youth Core, is a major initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and is deeply connected to the international abortion movement through its funding agencies.

Among Interfaith Youth Core’s funders are the Argosy Foundation, which has funded Medical Students for Choice, a group that demands that all medical students receive training in abortion; Ashoka, a group that promotes abortion on demand in Mexico; the Carnegie Corporation of New York that includes abortion in its promotion of responsible parenthood; the Hunt Alternatives Fund, whose grant-making includes the promotion of abortion under sexual and reproductive health, rights and services; and the Rockefeller Foundation, which is a funder of some of the world’s leading pro-abortion organisations.

Smeaton points out on his blog that Blair’s organisation is also working with World Vision, an international aid organisation that promotes abortion on demand internationally.

Smeaton said, "I think it’s outrageous for someone who refuses to repudiate his position on these matters, who continues to work with groups funded by the pro-abortion lobby, is being feted" by being invited to deliver the keynote address at a prominent Catholic event. 

Read related coverage:

"Principal Architect" of the Culture of Death Tony Blair Invited to Speak at Catholic Youth Conference in Rome

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