Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Church welcomes Tony Blair

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to be received into the one, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church shortly after leaving office. It has been said that the reason that he has waited until now to swim the Tiber is because as Prime Minister he does have a role in appointing bishops in the Church of England-but the constitutional bar does not exist as it once did to keep a Catholic from becoming Prime Minister.

First of all, no matter when someone decides to make the leap, it is a wonderful thing to welcome new converts to the Church. Anyone who has paid much attention to Mr. Blair might have seen this coming for years, as his wife and children are devout Catholics and the man regularly goes to Mass. Basil Cardinal Hume once had to scold Blair publicly for receiving Holy Communion since he is not a Catholic, combined with the fact that his very public positions on certain issues are not in harmony with the Church. In Catholicism, Communion is more than merely a symbol-orthodox Catholics believe that it is really, truly, and substantially the body and blood of Christ. To receive Holy Communion is not only a public signification that the communicant embraces that belief, but also that the receiver is "one with the Church," that he or she embraces the totality of Catholic dogma, doctrine, and magesterial teaching.

You have to wonder if the public scolding had an effect on Blair, and he came to realize that this is serious business-and now, free from the shackles of Number 10 Downing Street, he is equally free to embrace a faith he had already wanted to call his own.

There are questions, of course, with the conversion of such a famous public figure. Did Blair wait in part not because of his influence in appointing Anglican bishops, but because his departure from the leadership of the Labour Party means that he no longer feels some need to uphold a political platform that sanctions aborticide and seems to condone or tolerate immorality if it does not promote it outright? (Note: There are pro-life, pro-family Labourites, just as there are pro-life Democrats in the United States.) It does look suspicious, I must say, but I'll leave the details of this to Blair, his pastor, his spiritual director, and (most importantly) the Lord-for only these parties together are fully aware of Tony Blair's frame of mind.

Since he is such a public figure, I pray that his faith becomes a living example to the millions of people who have come to know him over his years of public life.

(Hat Tip: Stephanie Richer)



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