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  Will Tony Blair become a Catholic ?
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Tender Branson
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« on: June 24, 2007, 06:23:31 am »

Blair 'to become a Catholic after stepping down'

By Andrew Grice

Tony Blair is "certain" to become a Roman Catholic shortly after he steps down from office next week, friends of the Prime Minister have said. They believe it will happen "sooner rather than later".

Mr Blair is likely to discuss his conversion with Pope Benedict XVI, with whom he will hold talks in Rome tomorrow after attending his last summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.

Aides say that in the private one-to-one meeting, he will also discuss his plans to set up a Blair Inter-Faith Foundation aimed at fostering closer links between people from different religions.

There have been persistent rumours that the Prime Minister would convert to Catholicism but Downing Street has always insisted that he remains a member of the Church of England.

Now friends say Mr Blair will formalise his already close affiliation to the Catholic Church. They say his "spiritual guide" in making the decision has been his wife, Cherie. They have brought up their four children as Catholics.

Before he became Prime Minister, Mr Blair regularly took communion with his wife and children at a Catholic church in Islington, north London. He ceased doing so in public after an intervention by the late Cardinal Hume, when he was leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

It is believed that Mr Blair decided to remain an Anglican while he was Prime Minister because of the possible legal and political difficulties of converting while in office.

Although Britain has never had a Catholic prime minister, the church has said there would be no constitutional bar to Mr Blair joining while he was still in office. But some lawyers believe the 1829 Emancipation Act, which granted civil rights to Roman Catholics, may still prevent a Catholic from becoming Prime Minister. It says that no Catholic adviser to the monarch can hold civil or military office.

Some constitutional historians have said a conversion could affect the relationship between church and state. As Prime Minister, Mr Blair makes recommendations to the Queen on the appointment of Church of England bishops - a role that Gordon Brown intends to hand back to the church when he succeeds Mr Blair as part of a raft of constitutional reforms. Church officials say this is a state role rather than a religious one and that the Prime Minister's own affiliations need not be a difficulty.

If he had converted while Prime Minister, Mr Blair might have faced questions about whether his religious views had affected his decisions.

Friends dismissed speculation that Mr Blair would become a deacon, a lay role within the Catholic Church, which would have allowed him to preside over ceremonies including marriage but not communion.

Mr Blair has discussed his conversion with Canon Timothy Russ, the priest whose parish includes Chequers, the Prime Minister's country retreat in Buckinghamshire. The formal process of the switch are understood to be being handled by Father John Walsh, a regular visitor to Chequers. The family stopped going to church after the Iraq war for security reasons but attend private mass.

Father Russ, a critic of the Iraq war, said in a 2004 interview that Mr Blair had asked him: "Can the Prime Minister of Britain be a Catholic?" At the time, the Prime Minister, asked whether he planned to covert, replied: "I am saying no. Don't they run this once a year? I think they do."

Mr Blair is keen to be involved in four issues after he leaves office: inter-faith work to promote dialogue between Christianity, Islam and Judaism; a "serious job" in the Middle East, where the White House has said he may become an envoy; climate change; and Africa. He is expected to carry out speaking engagements.

Some MPs have cast doubts on Mr Blair's ability to act as a go-between for the world's religions because of the Iraq war. His possible Middle East role also raised eyebrows because he was accused of taking a pro-Israeli line during the crisis in Lebanon last summer. But one friend said: "He is keen to do the inter-faith work. That will be a big priority."

As Prime Minister Mr Blair has been cautious about his religious beliefs. As Alastair Campbell, his former director of communications, once famously said: "We don't do God."

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article2694903.ece
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Keystone Phil
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2007, 12:16:34 pm »

Welcome.  Smiley  I guess something from that ridiculous The Trial of Tony Blair movie was accurate.
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Robespierre's Jaw
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2007, 04:15:43 pm »

Tony Blair will follow suit with the rest of his family and become a Catholic. Blair could also come up to good old Catholic Heaven as depicted in The Simpsons.
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