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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Theological Notebook: Tony Blair Finally Goes Catholic 
23rd-Dec-2007 12:19 pm
Thomas More
A note from Sky News that Dan sent to me. I'm at my Mom's right now, on her dial-up, and so trying to get online is extremely slow, so much so that I just haven't really been bothering. Anyway, I can't help but notice the casting of Blair's conversion strongly in privatized terms by Sky News: the decision Blair made is a "personal" one, and the controversy provoked by his move is that some people have the notion that faith has public implications....

Criticism For Blair Over Conversion
Updated:19:21, Saturday December 22, 2007

Tony Blair's conversion to Catholicism has been criticised by commentators who argue his views as PM were at odds with church teachings.

Tony Blair has met Pope BenedictMr Blair was welcomed into the Roman Catholic church by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor - leader of the Roman Catholics in England and Wales.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor welcomed the politician's personal decision, which culminated in the ceremony at the chapel of the Archbishop's House in Westminster.

He said: "For a long time he has been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months he has been following a programme of formation to prepare for his reception into full communion."

The move comes after years of speculation that Mr Blair, whose wife Cherie and four children are Catholic, would convert from Anglicanism after he resigned from Number 10 in June.

Converting while in office would have caused him problems in connection with issues such as abortion, contraception, homosexuality and faith schools.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) reacted with surprise to the news.

John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, said: "During his premiership Tony Blair became one of the world's most significant architects of the culture of death, promoting abortion, experimentation on unborn embryos, including cloned embryos, and euthanasia by neglect.

"SPUC is writing to Tony Blair to ask him whether he has repented of the anti-life positions he has so openly advocated throughout his political career."

Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, who converted to Catholicism in 1993, told Sky News it was possible in her opinion to be a practising Catholic and prime minister.

She said: "I think the crucial thing to remember is at the point you are received (into the Catholic church) you have to say individually and out loud 'I believe everything the church teaches to be revealed truth'.

"And that means if you previously had any problems with church teaching, as Tony Blair obviously did over abortion, as he did again over Sunday trading...you would have to say you changed your mind.

"And I think people will want to know that he did go through that process, because otherwise it will seem as if the church did make an exception for somebody just because of who he is."
Comments 
23rd-Dec-2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
'I believe everything the church teaches to be revealed truth'.

Yikes. If those are the terms, that's why I can't be in it.
23rd-Dec-2007 07:28 pm (UTC)
If we take that idea seriously, then I would think that that must be at the credal level: the Creed is required. Everything else derives from that, and the further the derivation, the greater the variety that doesn't allow itself to be so glibly captured in such a formula. You have to remember that it was an MP who offered that particular articulation, and not the Cardinal.
23rd-Dec-2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
Oy vey. This is the sort of thing I'd bicker with George over, except I'm trying very hard to be kind and generous and not snippy to him this Advent.
23rd-Dec-2007 10:13 pm (UTC) - windows into men's souls
Converting while in office would have caused him problems in connection with issues such as abortion, contraception, homosexuality and faith schools.

And the war, but of course nobody mentions that.
24th-Dec-2007 04:33 am (UTC) - Re: windows into men's souls
well, it depends where you are. where i am, it seems every homily is about the war and how wrong it is.
24th-Dec-2007 05:49 am (UTC) - Re: windows into men's souls
All right, but it's not the sort of opinion Catholic politicians get, as far as I can tell, jumped on for having. Opposing church teaching on capital punishment is another one of these (see also: Scalia, Antonin, assuming Supreme Court justices count as "politicians").

*is cranky -- not at you, just generally -- bad Catholic liberal*
24th-Dec-2007 08:33 am (UTC) - Re: windows into men's souls
ok well your first icon is so awesome and so me that i am adding you. and i am planning on a huge catholic dump soon enough because i am converting easter.
24th-Dec-2007 07:40 pm (UTC) - Re: windows into men's souls
Nice to meet you! I've added you back. :)
24th-Dec-2007 01:04 am (UTC)
She said: "I think the crucial thing to remember is at the point you are received (into the Catholic church) you have to say individually and out loud 'I believe everything the church teaches to be revealed truth'.

I actually thought this was very encouraging to hear from another high profile convert! It's a little broad, maybe, but it would not be wrong to say, "I believe everything the Church teaches to be revealed truth to be revealed truth." Since the Church is always actively discerning the degrees of required assent in some areas, it's looser than it looks. But certainly in context, the Church requires obedience on the matter of abortion, yes? I should think the point of a Church is that you don't get to decide whether to excommunicate yourself - otherwise, stay Anglican.
24th-Dec-2007 04:33 am (UTC)
*laughs* i agree with this and it's pretty angst-inducing.
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