Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair Becomes Catholic

BBC NEWS | UK | Tony Blair joins Catholic faith

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has converted to the Catholic faith.

His wife Cherie is a Catholic and there had been speculation that he would convert to Catholicism from his Anglican faith after leaving office.

Mr Blair’s official spokesman confirmed he had converted on Friday night and said it was a private matter.

As has been rumored for years, (I discussed almost exactly six months ago), Mr. Blair has become a Catholic. While certainly glad to have him (and anyone reading this who’s not Catholic; talk to a priest today!), given some of his stances on issues (see my link in this paragraph), hopefully he’ll spend some time recognizing the wisdom of Church teaching in these areas and work to undo some of the damage his past support for policies in opposition to Church teaching has caused.

“Why Fred?”

For those (like me) who asked the above question, National Right to Life explains their endorsement of Fred Thompson for President:

National Right to Life endorsed Fred Thompson based on three factors: his commitments on life issues, his record on life issues and his ability to win.

UPDATE: An alternate take:

The reason the National Right to Life Committee is endorsing Fred Thompson is that they figured the best way to preserve life is to not piss off Fred Thompson.

More failures for embryonic stem cells

Secondhand Smoke: An Embryonic Stem Cell Fade

In a sign that hopes for quick medical benefits from stem cells are fading, ES Cell International (ESI)–a company established with fanfare in Singapore 7 years ago–is halting work on human embryonic stem (hES) cell therapies.

The company was attempting to turn hES cells into insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes and cardiac muscle cells to counter congestive heart failure. Both conditions represent major markets with unmet clinical needs, but making well-functioning insulin-producing cells “proved really difficult,” Colman says.

Another sign that all the money spent on enbryonic stem cells is wasted. If we’re going to spend money on what works: adult stem cell therapies.

Tony Blair to become Catholic?

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.

Hat Tips: The Corner for the first article, Amy Welborn for the second.

Bush Rightly Vetos Bill to fund Embryo-Destructive Research

Bush vetoes bill aimed at promoting stem cell research –

Pushing back against the Democratic-led Congress, President Bush vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have eased restraints on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.

“Our innovative spirit is making possible incredible advances in medicine that can save lives and cure diseases,” the president told an invited audience in the East Room.

“America is also a nation founded on the principle that all human life is sacred. And our conscience calls us to pursue the possibilities of science in a manner that respects human dignity and upholds our moral values,” he said.

One of the concepts agreed upon after the end of World War II and the discoveries of the extent of Nazi cruelties to their prisoners was that human beings were not to be used for scientific experimentation. It is wrong to use human beings merely as a means to an end, no matter how noble that end might be.

It turns out to be especially unnecessary to engage in this research as science has discovered how to create pluripotent stem cells from adult stem cells, removing the need to destroy human life. This discovery was made prior to the Senate sending this bill to the president. In addition to vetoing this bill, President Bush issued an executive order directing the Department of Health and human Services to fund such research in the hopes of finding the promised cures without any ethical issues. (See the full text of the order.)

Given that we can now do the research without any ethical quandaries, why the rush to engage in unethical research? Unless there’s another motive, there’s no reason any longer to support embryo-destructive research, even for those who believe embryonic stem cell research will be more efficacious than adult stem cell research (which is doubtful, given the higher potential for rejection by the body and the increased risk of tumors).