Saturday, 22 December 2007

Blair Becomes a Catholic

So Tony Blair was received into the Church last night at Archbishop's House, Ambrosden Avenue. He had, according to reports, been receiving instruction in recent months from an RAF Chaplain (Fr John Walsh) and the Cardinal's Private Secretary (Mgr Mark O'Toole).

Whatever our opinion on Blair's decade as PM or our reservations on the timing of his conversion (why now and not when he was in the office?), this is good news - because it's always good news when someone follows the call of God and come to the fullness of faith. In the words of the Church's current Advent 'campaign' in this country, Blair has 'come home for Christmas.'

It would be un-Christian to assume, at this stage and without any real evidence, that his conversion was insincere. After all, in the short service presided over by the Cardinal last night, Blair would have solemnly declared, after reciting the creed: 'I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.'

We trust that Blair will be able to clarify where he now stands on moral issues such as abortion, on which he had such a poor voting record in his pre-Catholic days. SPUC has referred to him as '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.' Following last night's Reception into the Church, we should presume his sincerity and repentance for past sins and hope for a new beginning.

Blair's conversion is, indeed, historic and constitutes the most high-profile recent conversion in this country outside of the Royal Family. He will now be in a unique position to live out the lay apostolate and bear witness to his Catholic faith through his words and actions.

As a friend of mine put it in an e-mail: 'it's got to be good news. Mr Blair, make it so.' In the meantime, we can join the Cardinal in saying that our 'prayers are with him, his wife and family at this joyful moment in their journey of faith together.'

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8 Comments:

Blogger FitzjamesHorse said...

Welcome news of course....well I think it is. We should be careful what we pray for as it might just happen. It would have been courageous if he had dared take this step a few years back and significant for English Catholicism as a whole. On the other hand we can claim with some justification that the mendacity, spin and agression he showed for 10years were not done as a Catholic. He has now officially seen the light.
When briefly assigned to London for three weeks each year, I was usually working near Victoria and spent many happy lunch times in the Cathedral followed by a visit to the CTS bookshop and a burger at MacDonalds.
Increasingly at "prayer of the faithful" I have feared shaking hands with a very eclectic crew of politicians and journalists.

5:17 pm  
Blogger Kevin said...

Thank you, Father. I've only read condemning and sarcastic posts on this, so far. I'm revising my blog subscriptions.

5:32 pm  
Blogger Ollie said...

Thanks for this entry which is certainly balanced. It's interesting that reports at the moment name Father O'Toole and Father Walsh but make no mention of Father Seed who was always mentioned as the Blair's personal priest in previous reports.

5:56 pm  
Blogger Mary Jane said...

Thank you for your comments, Father. As soon as I heard the news on Classic FM this morning (which of course is afternoon where you are anyway), I braced myself for the negativity. I'm just skipping "the usual suspects" on this one.

And have a very happy Christmas!

9:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a refreshingly balanced comment on Blair's reception in comparison with the moralistic bile to be found on other blogs. The fact remains that it is likely that he will embrace cafeteria Catholicism but he won't be alone. It is forgotten that when Kennedy was President of the United States he said, loud and clear, that he would not let his faith stand between him and government policy. This attitude has been adopted by many Catholic politicians since and explains people like Ruth Kelly. It remains to be seen how much of the Church's teaching Blair will accept and apply. Mrs Blair does not present an encouraging example but at least they and their family will be one at the altar.

12:12 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Dear Fr Nick,

Fitjameshorse, kevin, ollie, mary jane and anymous are, I regret to say, living a fantsay if they think that there is any real reason to beleive that Mr Blair has become a real Catholic.

His favourite theologian is Dr Hans Kung who had his licence to teach Catholic theology withdrawn by the Vatican.

Tony Blair has a 100% anti-life voting record in the House of Commons and some of the most anti-Catholic legislation for years has been passed under his premiership.

There is simply NO BASIS WHATEVER for supposing that he has change dhis views.

The fact that he had to make an act of faith is no guarantee. He may simply be affirming what he has all along believed i.e. a very Modernist form of Christianity.

I do not think he has "officially seen the light" at all and the mere fact that he has decided to be received into the Church is no guarantee of that, either.

The capacity for people to fool themselves and be absurdly over-optimistic and not realistic is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the virtue of hope or, indeed, any virtue.

Indeed, it is a species of lying and thus a sin.

Those people who voted for Mr Blair and his government becuase they thought he was a Christian have done this nation a very grave disservice.

He has shown himself to be one of the Prime Ministers the most hostile to Christianity that this country has had in a very long time.

Let's stop kidding ourselves.

8:02 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

James - you must have some inside information to be so sure of Blair's current state of soul! You're certainly correct in pointing out the damage that happened during his Premiership. I admit that I may very well be optimistic in hoping that Friday marked a new beginning - but I wouldn't call it absurd or sinful.

9:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add my thanks, Father, for the balanced and charitable way in which you speak of Mr Blair's reception into the Church.

1:47 pm  

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