It’s been rumored (or should that be rumoured?) for while now that British Prime Minister Tony Blair would like to become Catholic. There’s a few problems with that:
- “Friends say that he studies both the Bible and the Koran daily, and much of his political philosophy has been influenced by the social teachings of the Catholic Church.” – The Koran? He needs to remember that it’s the bible that’s the inspired Word of God. The Koran was at best written by Muhammad. Worst case: written by the Devil.
- He is a particular admirer of the maverick German theologian Hans Kung. – The Hans Kung who’s not allowed to teach as a Catholic theologian because his writings are not in union with Catholic belief?
- Father Russ [who has spoken to Blair about converting] added that Mr. Blair, whose views on a range of issues from abortion to stem-cell research are at odds with traditional church teaching, had “some way to go” on important moral issues. – ‘Nuff said.
(Quotes from article linked above.)
As further evidence that crossing the Tiber is not going to be smooth sailing for Mr. Blair, see this article:
Tony Blair’s eagerly awaited meeting with the Pope resulted in discomfort for the Prime Minister when he found himself on the receiving end of a stern lecture over his record in office.
During a 25-minute face-to-face audience in the Pontiff’s private apartments, Pope Benedict XVI tackled Mr Blair on the continuing crisis in Iraq and the Middle East.
Italian news agency reports said Pope Benedict also made direct criticism of New Labour laws allowing greater stem cell research on human embryos, easy access to abortion, same-sex marriages, and adoption by gay couples.
Friction even seemed to emerge as the Pope and Prime Minister appeared in public for the cameras. Mr Blair, joined by his wife Cherie, presented Benedict with a framed set of three antique pictures of Cardinal Newman, who converted in 1845 after more than 20 years in the Church of England clergy and is now a candidate for sainthood.
Mrs Blair said: “I believe you are very familiar with him and he is on the journey to sainthood.”
To which the Pope responded: “Yes, yes, although it is taking some time – miracles are hard to come by in Britain.”
After the meeting, the Pope’s office issued a strongly worded statement, saying the two men had a ‘frank discussion on the international situation, in particular the delicate question of the Middle East conflict’.
The actual wording of the communique contained the Italian phrase ‘franco confronto’, literally translated as ‘frank confrontation’ – inflammatory language seen as highly unusual in Rome.
But the statement was seen as indicating the Vatican’s continuing unease with the Iraq conflict, and also recent domestic legislation in Britain. In the language of diplomatic communiques, ‘frank discussion’ is customarily seen as code for an argument.
The statement was all the more surprising because the Vatican always uses carefully controlled language.
A conversion of this magnitude will draw a lot publicity. The Church will likely make sure that Mr. Blair makes some sort of public correction of his earlier erroneous views on issues where he taken a public stand against settled Church teaching. He’s welcome to come to the Catholic Church (as is everyone….), but he’ll likely have to make some accounting for his past errors before he can welcomed fully.