Saturday, 23 June 2007

Will He, Won't He...?

Rumours and speculation have abounded for weeks. Today is apparently the big day. No, sorry, I'm not talking about the Motu Proprio (Ohhh, I wish that I were!) Instead, I'm talking about our soon-to-be-ex-Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

The rumours have suggested that he is planning to convert to Catholicism. His visit to the Holy Father later today, as his last official European engagement, is taken by the press to mean that Blair wants to discuss terms and conditions... (I sincerely hope that praying for the EU deliberations to over-run so that he missed his slot doesn't constitute a mortal sin, otherwise I'm in trouble.)

Don't misunderstand me. If Tony Blair has experienced a true conversion, and wishes to embrace the Catholic Faith, then I would be delighted for him. I experienced a major conversion and returned to the fold nearly fifteen years ago, and it is something I shall be eternally grateful for (literally!) I wouldn't dream of placing obstacles in the way of anyone else.

But, embracing the Catholic Faith means exactly that: embracing it. All of it. The nice bits, the comfortable "I've-come-home" bits, the bits that you've felt were right instinctively all your life, and the difficult bits that you don't-quite-understand, and the unfashionable, uncomfortable bits that might just lose us friends. The Faith. In its glorious and magnificent entirety.

Conversion also means renouncing the mistakes of the past, and admitting that they were wrong. This change of heart can be very difficult for one's relationships with friends who shared previous ideas and ideologies, and sometimes there has to be a parting of the ways. This isn't easy, but for most people it is a quiet and private affair.

However, Tony Blair is a public figure. He may protest that his faith is a private matter, but Church teaching doesn't just cover private belief; public behaviour is also involved. The penances given in Confession were once public, and penitents had to stand at the door of the church in sackcloth and ashes for a certain period (determined by the sin) to prove their contrition (this is where the idea of "days off" with regard to partial indulgences arose... ) Mr Blair's voting record on abortion is public knowledge (he has, for example, voted three times to allow abortion up to birth) as is his stance on homosexuality (he said that he "did a little skip" of joy when the first Civil Partnerships were celebrated.)

So, If Tony Blair wants to be received into the Catholic Church, then, in order to avoid causing scandal (which is still a sin, though it isn't fashionable to mention it in these days of public soul-searching on Trisha and Oprah) he really must speak out and renounce his former actions in public. He will need to stand up and swear to accepting the whole of the Catholic Faith. In public.

I also read that Mr Blair wants to be considered for the diaconate. This strikes me as trying to run before you can walk. The report also added that he thought that he could be fast-tracked due to his previous role as Prime Minister. If this is true (and I put emphasis on the "if"), then it is one of the clearest indications that he is definitely not suitable for ordination.

You can read a report on Tony Blair's impending visit in the Daily Mail (which cites Blair's stance on abortion as an impediment.)

UPDATE: Although no earth-shattering announcements have been made, Fr. Ray posts a picture of the meeting between the Holy Father and Tony Blair (and I love the caption), and Fr. Tim has obtained some amazing photos of the lunch given by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor at the English College. Oh, and the blip in the Earth's gravitational field is the result of several of the English Martyrs rotating in their graves...


WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Perhaps mr Blair and his pro-abortion wife should read the conversion story of Dr Nathanson.
Perhaps the Blairs together should be seeing their PP for some proper instruction.
But then I have this horrible feeling he will just be received-and propbably by the Cardinal, who after all has just allowed the desecration of Westminster Cathedral.
What message this gives to those seeking the Truth is ... well thank God, God is in charge!

Anonymous said...

I have heard similar things from good sources, but I agree with your analysis:
He will need to stand up and swear to accepting the whole of the Catholic Faith. In public.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Tony has, in fact, been given the middle finger by BXVI...during their meeting. He is a lair and fraud.

Deacon? LOL.

Anonymous said...

That he may be, but remember the British papers completely misread the Italian.

Anonymous said...

I take the "Blair as Deacon" story with a pinch of salt (or more). Remember,it surfaced in the Daily Mail, and Sunday's Mail on Sunday headline about "Miracles don't happen in Britain" which was something our Holy Father said about Newman but which was taken out of context to prove some 'point' or other about Blair's presumed 'conversion'...

The Mail is a notorious catholic hating rag. It's a wind-up.

Whatever the truth of Blair is (and I don't think even he knows) he is very intelligent and certainly knows enough about the Catholic Church to understand both how reception into the church 'works' and how the Diaconate 'works' also.

If Mr. Blair does enter through the gate, yes, I will feel a bit 'uncomfortable' about it but I shall not leave the Church - "you have the truth of all things; Lord, where would we go?" God's Grace is both a miracle and a mystery. Who am I to deny that Grace is working in him?

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