Blair To Convert To Being A Catholic
06-23-2007, 06:17 PM
Blair To Convert To Being A Catholic
Or so report Al-Jazeera
I think he just blew that Nazi in power in the Vatican:hurt:
06-23-2007, 11:18 PM
Blair To Convert To Being A Catholic
There have been rumours for a few days. The latest (AFAIK) UK originating one is at
It's also been in the Guadrian recently and was suggested some time ago that he took communion from Pope john Paul in 2003. Both these are mentioned at the link.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Please understand that the &Light at the End of the Tunnel& is most likely to be the 7.42 from Kings Cross coming in the opposite direction at Great Speed.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - Bapu.
06-24-2007, 01:16 AM
Blair To Convert To Being A Catholic
Convert? Blairs been a Catholic for 25 years already
By GARRY O'CONNOR
Last updated at 21:48pm on 23rd June 2007
It was said to be to be a precursor to Tony Blair's conversion to the Catholic faith.
Certainly it was not the first time the Prime Minister had trodden the corridors of the Vatican to talk with a pontiff.
But yesterday's meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, if informed opinion is correct, was not just a moment for the two to exchange views on matters of international concern, but a very private moment of personal commitment by Mr Blair to the life-long faith of his wife.
The full extent of Cherie Blair's influence on the outgoing Prime Minister's relationship with Catholicism cannot be underestimated: the research for my book Universal Father: A Life of Pope John Paul II led me to secure a wide-ranging interview with her and a unique insight into the role her intense faith has played in shaping the Blairs' careers and their marriage.
The Blairs met in 1976 when they were both young, ambitious lawyers. Apparently they fell in love at first sight.
She once told how he gave her folded scraps of paper on which he had written: "Tony loves Cherie."
They contained "drawings of a little stick man and a little stick woman and loads of kisses."
Cherie said: "It's not a very expensive gesture but I think it's very romantic."
Faith informed their early relationship. Cherie has said: "Not all the people I went out with were particularly religious but it was one of the things that Tony and I had in common."
I interviewed her in Downing Street in 2003 while researching my book. She rarely talks to journalists so I was flattered to be taken into her confidence.
Cherie was keen to show me her warm, human side but, dressed in a low-cut top, there was also a flirtiness about her that I found disconcerting and which she played upon.
Cherie's family in Liverpool were devout Catholics, while Mr Blair's parents did not appear to have any of this religious zeal.
Although he went to Durham Cathedral Chorister School and was a communicant Anglican, he showed little enthusiasm for religion until after his father suffered a stroke in 1964 and then, later, when his mother died.
At Oxford University, he found a spiritual mentor in Peter Thompson, a 36-year-old ordained Anglican who led him to confirmation.
During their early years together, Mr Blair joined Cherie in Catholic Communion even though he feared it might compromise his political ambitions.
Surprisingly, Cherie consented to a Church of England wedding at the chapel of St John's College, Oxford, where Tony had studied.
To marry in a Protestant church, she needed permission from her bishop or the marriage would be invalid and she would be banned from taking the sacraments.
But before Mr Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, he took Catholic Communion in St Joan of Arc Church in Islington, North London, where the family lived.
And even before her move to No 10, which brought her, as she has put it, "my unique perspective on the Catholic faith within the Establishment," Cherie had begun cultivating Cardinal Basil Hume, then Archbishop of Westminster.
Hume himself never much responded on a personal level to the Blairs and notably, clashed with Mr Blair over his taking Catholic Communion.
A Vatican directive of 1996 had tightened the practice of refusing Communion to non-Catholics, and Hume had asked Mr Blair not to participate.
It was probably Cherie who initiated the call from Downing Street to request a visit some two or three days before Hume died from cancer in 1999.
Cherie told me she and Mr Blair held a 20-minute conversation with the Cardinal at his hospital bedside, considering the meaning of the Lord's Prayer.
After the birth of the Blairs' youngest child Leo in 2000, the family began to spend more weekends at their country retreat, Chequers.
In contrast to her husband, Cherie hated the countryside, saying she preferred the smell and comfort of concrete.
The local priest, Canon Timothy Russ, was a frequent guest at Chequers. Here he met Cherie's father, the actor Tony Booth, whom he described as a delightful man. Both smoked but Cherie had banned cigarettes at Chequers so they had to light up outside.
Canon Russ told me: "If she had her way, she would ban all smoking everywhere." As the years passed, Canon Russ formed the impression that Mr Blair was often lonely during Chequers weekends. Cherie was frequently away working, while the elder children "voted with their feet they never turned up" he said.
Not afraid to express his opinions, Canon Russ once suggested the Blairs ought to holiday in Blackpool instead of Tuscany, but Cherie "would not have any of that".
He felt Mr Blair and Cherie were too interested in wealth and believed success meant making money.
One day during an argument, a furious Mr Blair turned to Canon Russ and asked: "How much do you make?" "Five hundred pounds a year," the priest replied.
"Five hundred what?" stuttered the Prime Minister, aghast.
However, based on evidence from their discussions and frequent exchanges of handwritten letters, the priest believes the Prime Minister is at heart a genuinely modest person who aspires to be good and decent.
At the time of the furore over Mr Blair's appointment of Ruth Kelly as Education Secretary caused by her membership of Opus Dei the Prime Minister asked Canon Russ: "What is Opus Dei?"
"A rather strict organisation of the Church," the priest told him, adding: "General Franco had 11 members of Opus Dei in his government."
"I've only got one what's wrong with me?" the Prime Minister said.
Mr Blair spoke to Canon Russ several years ago about his desire to become a Roman Catholic deacon when he left Downing Street. He asked the priest: "Would this be possible?"
When Canon Russ told him it would usually take "two or three years" before he could be considered for such a role, Mr Blair replied: "The fact that I'm PM, could this make a difference?"
I asked Canon Russ if, when Mr Blair was free from politics, he would accept the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. He was convinced he would, saying: "He has a lot of potentiality for good. He is still looking for the meaning in his life." But for the time being he was "two different people."
Although Canon Russ no longer sees the Blairs he was excluded from their circle after making critical comments about the Iraq War he writes to Mr Blair weekly and still sends him his sermons, which he says contain coded messages to the Prime Minister.
Canon Russ has been replaced by Father John Walsh, a jovial RAF chaplain from Liverpool who, it seems, has been guiding Mr Blair closer to becoming a Catholic.
Although the Prime Minister was a firm admirer of US President Bill Clinton, he has formed a close relationship with his successor, George Bush, who is also deeply religious.
When the pair first met in 2001, Mr Bush asked: "May I call you Tony?"
Mr Blair countered: "Thanks, George may I call you George? It's great to be here."
A senior acquaintance of the Blairs told me Mr Bush presented the couple with a set of coasters bearing his photograph. On their return to Britain, the Blairs proudly placed them on a coffee table in their Downing Street sitting room.
The Iraq crisis came at a tumultuous time in the Blairs' personal life.
It had been reported that Cherie had lost a baby in August 2002 and was at an all-time low after buying two apartments in Bristol with the help of convicted fraudster Peter Foster.
But while Cherie may have been guilty of misjudgment over her relationship with Foster, her husband was guilty of a far greater misjudgment over Iraq.
Mr Bush, Mr Blair and Cherie believe in God and a spiritual direction to human life, so they might be expected to be better equipped than most to understand Islam.
Furthermore, Mr Blair claims he has read the Koran three times. So why did they believe they could impose democracy on Iraq, a country where religious power and not politics held sway?
The answer, I believe, is that both men were ignorant and deluded. Neither could distinguish fact from fiction, or history from personal ambition.
Mr Blair's 2002 decision to go to war, fully endorsed in public by Cherie, once again brought the question of their Catholic faith into the public arena.
In February 2003, with three of their children Leo, Kathryn and Euan they travelled to Rome to meet the Pope.
Cherie described the visit as private but it was far from this. With the repeated condemnation by Pope John Paul II of any military action, the Blairs&£39; visit gave the Prime Minister an opportunity to put his case for war and seek the Pontiff's counsel, even his endorsement.
This was important to him for, as he was to say on the Michael Parkinson show in March 2006, specifically about his decision to invade Iraq, "if you have faith you realise that judgment is made by God."
For the papal audience, Cherie wore a black suit and the black lace mantilla of a devout Catholic woman. As she knelt to kiss the Pope's ring, Leo, then two, squirmed out of his nanny's arms. She later told me that Vatican staff let him sit on one of the Pope's thrones.
She said the visit was "the highlight of my time at No 10".
How Mr Blair thought he might convince John Paul of his case for war, only he knows. In the 20-minute audience, the Pontiff pointed out the terrible consequences.
It is hard to imagine how Mr Blair could have believed that God could tell him to go to war, and it stretches his and Cherie's belief in Catholicism to breaking point.
When I asked Cherie about John Paul's conversation with Mr Blair on Iraq, she said the Pope had told him: "Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what to do."
But on his return to Britain, Mr Blair told a friend something different that John Paul said three times: "I am very glad this is not my decision."
The privileges seized from Cherie's involvement with the Catholic Church expanded towards the end of the couple's time in Downing Street.
The family no longer went to Mass at Westminster Cathedral, but asked Father Michael Seed to come round to celebrate it in the sitting room of their flat at No 11.
Cherie was back in Rome in 2006 to seek an audience with the new Pope, Benedict XVI. While Cherie had followed form at the funeral of John Paul in April 2005 by wearing a black dress and mantilla, in her short audience with Benedict she flouted protocol and wore white.
Only Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Paola of Belgium and Josephine Charlotte, the wife of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, as consorts of Catholic royalty, are entitled to wear white while meeting the Pope. Cherie&£39;s act was deliberate she would have known what to wear.
There is a very English snobbishness that the Pope shouldn't presume to tell sophisticated lawyers like Cherie Booth how to behave.
It reinforces the notion that Cherie has a grand idea of herself a vision that is a far cry from those stalwart Catholic women of her childhood who gathered in their living room rosary circles to pray.
But Cherie has been determined to keep her Catholic options open. She has kept in with pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood and posed before their stand at a Labour conference brandishing a condom.
In spring 2006 she delivered a paper at the Vatican Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, speaking about how children "are forced to grow up so quickly...having to take on the responsibilities of adults because they were neglected by older people". She has joined the Academy of Social Sciences as an adviser on social and legal issues though the appointment caused outrage in some Catholic quarters, given her sympathy for abortion groups and her views on contraception and women priests.
Mr Blair has dismissed as "tedious" the question of whether he will finally convert to Catholicism.
But, according to Fr Seed, given that he has attended Mass and taken Communion for 25 years or more, he is "a de facto Catholic".
Despite Mr Blair's reluctance to talk about religion, his move towards Catholicism may actually have won him the 2005 Election.
Had no Catholics voted, the Tories would have enjoyed a knife-edge lead in the popular vote. But, of course, Catholics did turn out and Blair secured an historic third term.
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