Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blair's Conversion

Telgraph is running a story that Tony Blair was persuaded by Cardinal Murphy O'Connor not to announce his conversion to Catholicism during his visit to the Holy Father.

The following paragraph might indicate he has already been recieved into the Church:

Despite being asked by Cardinal Basil Hume, the previous Archbishop of Westminster, to desist from receiving Communion because he has not converted to Catholicism, Mr Blair received Communion from Fr Michael Seed while he was at Downing Street and from Fr Timothy Russ and Fr Walsh at Chequers.

This morning I heard an interview on BBC's Radio 4 with Sir Stephen Wall, the former Press Advisor to the Cardinal, who had previously advised Blair denouncing much of the Church's moral teaching, especially on abortion and on sex and sexuality. Interestingly the interviewer seemed to think that such teaching was "Infallable" rather than Magisterial, so it seemed did Sir Stephen.


Aquinatic said...

Sir Stephen Wall (not Wells), principal advisor to the Cardinal on Public Affairs: what does the choice of such a man (seconded from 10 Downing Street) say about the Cardinal?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thank you, I'll change the post. i didn't have time to check.

factchecker said...

I think that the post is unfair to Sir Stephen Wall. He was the Prime Minister's adviser on Europe, a former Ambassador to the EU and a former head of the Cabinet Office EU secretariat. As such he would not have had a role in advising the Prime Minister on abortion and other issues of conscience, as these are outside the competence of the EU - they are left to the member states to determine.

I do not know the answer to "aquinatic"'s question, but if anyone wants to find out more, see this article written when he left the FCO at age 57.

This comes up first on a Google search for "Sir Stephen Wall" - this may be easier than pasting the long URL.

My guess is that, with the FCO retirement age of 60, he had been offered a final posting at home or abroad, and he wasn't attracted to it. So he looked around for an alternative. It is greatly to his credit that he took a huge salary cut to work for the Church.

Frankly, I think the Cardinal would have been mad not to snap up someone of this quality.

Perhaps I should say that I am not Sir Stephen Wall, and am not related to him. For the record, I have met him once briefly.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I drew attention to Sir Stephen's interview because it demonstrates a semi, or complete, detachment from the Church's Magisterium, not only on his part but on the part of many who are employed by the Church.
For me it shows that Cormac was crazy to employ him.

Aquinatic said...

factchecher should have taken the trouble to read carefully the Daily Telegraph article to which he refers. It is clear from it that Sir Stephen Wall's role at Archbishop's House, Westminster, was NOT confined to advising the Cardinal on European affairs. He had a much wider brief on 'external affairs', meaning non-diocesan affairs. I know of at least one matter on which he was advising during his term of office for which his views on abortion and contraception were certainly not irrelevant.

factchecker said...

Oh dear.

The confusion arose because of Fr Ray Blake's placing of his commas, which made me think that he thought Sir Stephen had been "advising Blair denouncing" various things. I was just saying that Sir Stephen had no role in advising (Mr) Blair on matters of ethics and morals. But re-reading Fr Ray's piece, I see that it was Sir Stephen, not (Mr) Blair who was doing the denouncing. All is now clear.

By the way, I do think that it is discourteous to refer to someone in public office by his or her surname alone - a trendy, leftish sort of habit which started in the era of (Mrs) Thatcher's premiership. Fr Ray has rightly pulled up a commenter for his (or her) informality in dropping his own title of "Father". It would be nice to extend the same courtesy to Mr Blair.