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Friday, October 28, 2016
Leading Catholics welcome Tony Blair's conversion - with some questions
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¬†News that former Prime Minister Tony has been received into full communion with the Catholic Church, has been welcomed by many leading Catholics, although some have also expressed the hope that in becoming a Catholic, Blair has changed his views on issues such as the war on Iraq, abortion and human embryo research, which were all, during his premiership, at odds with Catholic teaching. Scottish Primate Cardinal Keith O'Brien "I was very happy to hear the news that Tony Blair had been received into the Catholic Church. He had obviously spent a long time considering God's call. I join with others in wishing him and his family every blessing as they go forward together in the one faith." Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols "The Catholic Church is always glad to welcome people who come into full communion. I pray that Mr Tony Blair will now find great joy and consolation in the unity of his family." Bishop Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth "The announcement that Tony Blair is to become a Catholic, and so come into full communion with the Catholic Church, will, I am sure, be welcomed by many of the Catholic community. "This marks for him a very important step in his journey and discovery of personal faith. In being received into full communion, he joins many who are making a similar journey each year. In the diocese of Portsmouth, roughly 300 to 400 men and women have been received into the Catholic Church this year. At the same time as expressing our delight that he joins our Catholic community, I wish him well, bid him welcome and include him in my prayers." Bruce Kent ≠ Vice Chair of Pax Christi How times change. After the battle of Hastings, in order to be returned to full communion with the Church, all those who took part had to do penance. Even the archers who fought at long range and did not know if they had hit anyone had to perform public penance for three successive Lents." Ellen Teague, Catholic journalist "I support the view that Tony Blair should be indicted for war crimes for what he has done to the people of Iraq. I am bemused that the Cardinal himself, inside his own residence, has welcomed such a person into the Catholic Church. If Blair has repented his role in the Iraq war as part of his 'confession of sins' then this should be made public. "There is scant indication that he has any regrets at all. Last month Blair admitted for the first time that he had never used his position as America's strongest ally to try to force US President George Bush down the diplomatic rather than the military route regarding Iraq. Also, that he ignored the pleas of his aides and ministers to try and deter Bush from war. This Christmas, thousands of Christian families displaced to Northern Iraq will celebrate the season of peace in insecurity and precariousness. The Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq has been decimated and those left in Mosul can't even hold Midnight Mass this year because of the security situation. I wonder what they will make of this news." John Smeaton, national director Society For the Protection of the Unborn Child "The news about Tony Blair becoming a Catholic is decidedly strange and we are very concerned. During his premiership, Tony Blair became 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. "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." Julian Filochowski, former director of CAFOD "Delighted to hear the news. It's a long overdue 'coming home'. Welcome to our Gaudium et Spes Church of great diversity" Father John Buckley, Parish Priest in Portsmouth Diocese "This is wonderful news. One of the most important conversions since Cardinal Newman. I believe it could be 'a new spring' for the Church." Greg Watts, author of Labourer in the Vineyard: A Portrait of Pope Benedict XVI Some Catholics will greet Tony Blair's conversion as a triumph, a prize scalp and another body blow to the Church of England. Others will shake their heads and point to the blood on Mr Blair's hands over the disastrous invasion of Iraq during his time as Prime Minister. Neither view is the right response. Mr Blair has reached a significant junction in his personal faith journey. This is not a time for Catholic flag waving ≠ either in Westminster or Rome - nor is it a time for finger wagging at Mr Blair's personal morality (let him who is without sin cast the first stone). That one of the world's most influential political figures should make the decision to cross the Tiber sends out a simple and obvious message to a Western culture that is fast losing any sense of the transcendental: that religion and faith do matter.
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