Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Blair: Pope your wrong, its generational

I was hoping for some retraction of the former Prime Minister's stance on a whole raft of issues when Cardinal Murphy O'Connor received him into the full communion with the Catholic Church Ruth Gledhill reports "Tony Blair tells the Pope: you're wrong on homosexuality"
Tony Blair has challenged the “entrenched” attitudes of the Pope on homosexuality, and argued that it is time for him to “rethink” his views.

Speaking to the gay magazine Attitude, the former Prime Minister, himself now a Roman Catholic, said that he wanted to urge religious figures everywhere to reinterpret their religious texts to see them as metaphorical, not literal, and suggested that in time this would make all religious groups accept gay people as equals.

Asked about the Pope’s stance, Mr Blair blamed generational differences and said: “We need an attitude of mind where rethinking and the concept of evolving attitudes becomes part of the discipline with which you approach your religious faith.”

The Pope, who is 82, remains firmly opposed to any relaxation of the Church’s traditional stance on homosexuality, contraception or any other area of human sexuality. He has described homosexuality as a “tendency” towards an “intrinsic moral evil”.

Mr Blair, who now travels the world on behalf of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which aims to promote understanding of the main religions, left the Church of England for Rome soon after leaving office in 2007.

In the interview Mr Blair spoke of a “quiet revolution in thinking” and implied that he believed the Pope to be out of step with the public.

“There are many good and great things the Catholic Church does, and there are many fantastic things this Pope stands for, but I think what is interesting is that if you went into any Catholic Church, particularly a well attended one, on any Sunday here and did a poll of the congregation, you’d be surprised at how liberal-minded people were.” The faith of ordinary Catholics is rarely found “in those types of entrenched attitudes”, he said.

He also thought that in Islam there would eventually be a change of heart. “I believe that, ultimately, people will find their way to a sensible reformation of attitudes.”

People’s thinking had changed fundamentally, he added. “Now, that doesn’t mean to say there’s not still a lot of homophobia and a lot of things to be done. But the fact that it is unacceptable for any mainstream political party to be anything other than on the side of equality and respect is, in a way, the biggest change. The items of individual legislation matter a lot, but I think it’s the general shift in climate that is perhaps the most important point.”

He said: “When people quote the passages in Leviticus condemning homosexuality, I say to them — if you read the whole of the Old Testament and took everything that was there in a literal way, as being what God and religion is about, you’d have some pretty tough policies across the whole of the piece.”

He continued: “What people often forget about, for example, Jesus or, indeed, the Prophet Muhammad, is that their whole raison d’être was to change the way that people thought traditionally.”

No change in the Catholic Church’s stance is likely under the present leadership. The Church in England and Wales, which has been more liberal, is expected to move rightwards under the new Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, who has become increasingly conservative since becoming a bishop and archbishop.

While some converts become more conservative than those born to Roman Catholicism, the interview with Attitude’s Johann Hari shows that Mr Blair has allied himself firmly with the Church’s liberal wing.

Conventional wisdom was not necessarily wise, he said. “It can be wrong and it can be just a form of conservatism that hides behind a consensus. If you look back in time, through the suffragette movement, the fight against slavery, it’s amazing how the same arguments in favour of prejudice crop up again and again and again.”

He also claimed that the mood was changing in evangelical circles, which have been long been anti-gay — the source of the dispute that has taken the worldwide Anglican Communion to the brink of schism.

Referring to his contacts with evangelical groups in the US and elsewhere through the foundation, he said: “I think there is a generational shift that is happening. If you talk to the older generation, yes, you will still get a lot of pushback, and parts of the Bible quoted, and so on. But if you look at the younger generation of evangelicals, this is increasingly for them something that they wish to be out of — at least in terms of having their position confined to being anti-gay.”
Converts, when most priests receive them into the Church are expected to make the statement, “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” It just shows how much "wriggle room" His Eminence understands there to be in simple form of words.
Not only is the Cardinal expected to be offered a place in the House of Lords in his retirement but also to join the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, as much as I admire my former bishop, I hope he manages to Christ's Faith Foundation, aka the Catholic Church.


Elizabeth said...

In other words, the Church must abandon its mission and conform to the world. He hasn't thought it through, has he? What would be the next thing? Accepting paedophilia? Abortion? Euthanasia? Must keep up with the world.....

Laurence England said...

Father, he's got some nerve hasn't he! Who on Earth does he think he is lecturing our Pope on issues of morality? If TB was our spiritual leader we really would be definitely be going to Hell in a handcart. It was precisely his moral relativism that lead the nation into an illegal war, deeper into the promotion of homosexuality, abortion and contraception and the disaster that was his premiership. He's got some nerve, alright.

Ma Tucker said...

What a laugh. Mr Blair did not convert to Catholicism, he intends to convert Catholicism to himself. Lets keep it simple Pope smart Blair thick don't follow Blair he thick follow Pope he smart.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Joining Blair's weird sect strikes me as strange way in which to engage the World in the manner of the of the Vatican II springtime. CMOC deems himself too old to be a serving Archbishop of Westminster but not old enough to sign up with this millionaire weirdo, who continues to be surrounded by bodyguards paid for by the taxpayer. Cormac would surely do more good living in quiet seclusion at Parkminster.

nickbris said...

Mr Blair is the highest paid Public Speaker in the World.

These groups pay him to say what they want to hear.

He is a Prostitute,take money from anybody so long as he can fill his boots.

The Labour Party recognised him and then we got New Labour.

That Mad-Woman sowed the seeds of the mess we are now in but New Labour under Tonykins legitimised it for the poor hapless workers.

Steven said...

I have often used the phrase "A Church which weds the spirit of this age will find herself a widow in the next"

mafeking said...

This is provocative, and in Holy Week too. A first challenge for ++Nichols. I wonder how he's going to deal with it. I hope he's got the mettle to put him in his place. I never did trust Blair and his "conversion".

George said...

Blair just doesn't get it and he never will. He is not the first nor will he be the last to stand up and rant that the Catholic Church and the Pope have got it all wrong and must 'get with the times'. Modern thinking rules, man!

Oh boy, what a waste of space this guy is - has he read nothing of Church history and of the various heresies over the last 2000 years???

And he's going round with his 'faith foundation' (founded on what exactly?) promoting what exactly? Who does he think he is?

Cathy said...

Will the Cardinal continue to smile benevolently on Blair, or will he hang his head in shame recognising that he received a man into the Catholic Church who had not converted to the Catholic faith?

No matter what anyone has done, the Church is open to all who convert and repent. The Cardinal's unconditional reception of Blair brings both the Church and himself into disrepute. It's truly shameful.

English Pastor said...

Dear Mr Blair does not seem to have realised that we DO accept homosexual persons as equals; it is homosexual activity that we cannot condone. Not only is contrary to scripture (although Mr Blair now seems to regard himself as a better scripture scholar than any religious leader) and Tradition, it is contrary to the biological function of sex which is procreation of the species. I would have thought that even those who profess biology as their guiding light would be able to see the incongruity of espousing something contrary to biology, and we can add contraception, abortion and euthanasia to homosexual activity. It is confusing to find that someone has been received into the Church who obviously does not believe and profess what that Faith teaches on how to live the life of grace. I am inclined to think that his continued rejection of Catholic moral teaching requires an apology to the Catholic community from the clergy who instructed and received him into the Church . Had I been one of them, I would be making such an apology and contacting my convert to arrange some further and firmer instruction.

GOR said...

This would be laughable if it were not so serious. It makes one wonder what kind of catechesis the man received…? Of course, given the confusion sown and willful ignorance of some in clerical circles - even at the episcopal level - I suppose one should not be surprised.

Certain people will have some questions to answer – and I don’t mean the Holy Father!

Volpius Leonius said...

There is only one person to blame for this and that is Cardinal Murphy O'Connor.

Blair has not changed, been a public figure before his entry in the Church (I'll not call it a conversion as there has been none) we all knew where he stood on these issues and the Cardinal accepted him into the Church anyway when what he should have been doing was disciplining Blair's wife.

Given that homosexual masses take place with the Cardinals consent at Westminster though if we had to guess whose opinion is a better reflection of the Cardinals own, would it be Blair's or the Popes?

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales seems to be full of schismatics with a few notable exceptions.

ffn said...

It might do Blair good to live in quiet seclusion preferably in a penitential cell on Lough Derg.

Clare A said...

Tony Blair's behaviour is causing deep scandal to the faithful. By receiving him into the Church without asking him to assent to its teachings on life issues, the Cardinal has a share in this scandal as it looks as if the Church condones Blair's anti-life voting record.

Blair is a public figure and his strange religion will be accepted as Catholicism by people who know no better. So what if many churchgoers are more liberal on abortion and homosexuality? Someone should tell him "Truth is not decided by a majority vote" (Cardinal Ratzinger).

Laurence said...


Every newspaper is taking up this story. It's very damaging to have such an influential Catholic publicly at odds with the Holy Father, telling the Church to modernise. Very damaging indeed.

Jonathan said...

I am not surprised at all. I witnessed the Cardinal presiding over a confirmation Mass - his homily was bereft of anything vaguely Catholic - belief in God was the summit and content of his homily - it could have been given to Muslims! No one knelt for the consecration it wasn't cool! Scandal is what was created via Tony Blair's reception and scandal it remains and the Cardinal should apologise to the remnant he has profoundly disturbed.

George said...

'an influential Catholic publicly at odds with the Holy Father, telling the Church to modernise'.

Tony Blair an 'influential Catholic'????, in whose books exactly??? You CANNOT be at odds with the Holy Father and telling the Church to get with the Zeitgeist and publicly proclaim yourself a Catholic. This man is ignorant of Church teaching and his 'mentor' (Cardinal CMO'C?) should at the very least be telling him to moderate his language or at best excommunicating this self styled faith 'guru'. While so completely ignorant of Church Teaching he should out of all humility stop his rantings and try to dig a little deeper into the Faith he so professes to have adopted.

Laurence is right - this is very damaging to the Church, as 'Joe Bloggs' sees the Blairs as the model Catholic family.

This scandal needs nipping in the bud before Mr Blair ups the stakes and begins to speak 'in the name of the church' - perhaps in 'tongues' too.

gemoftheocean said...

Why in hell do people bother to "convert" if they don't really convert?

It's a failure of catechesis all up and down the line with him. He should NEVEr have been recieved into the church if he held this attitude.

At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt, that his mentors in the church had gotten him to see the light, etc and that by his reception into the church he'd given up this way of thinking.

But now that he's so vocal the other way it's manifestly evident this wasn't done. We have enough of our own heretics, apostates, and whathaveyous without importing any from the CofE!

Elizabeth said...

'To remain true, our Catholic-Christian faith today must become more countercultural. We Catholics must never forget that our essential decisions must be more informed by the teachings of Jesus than the cold pragmatism of a consumer economy or our personal whims'. Bishop Tod D. Brown’s

Tony Blair does not care about the Catholic Church, any more than he cared about this country whilst he was Prime Minister. His only ambition is to promote himself in any way he can, sounds like someone thrown out of heaven a long time ago.

Henry said...

Lawrence: "If TB was our spiritual leader we really would be definitely be going to Hell in a handcart."

Ryanair jet, surely, combining speed and discomfort?

I thought the official teaching of the church was chastity for all, married or single, regardless of orientation, and that sex was for procreation. Can someone please explain how that is anti-gay?

But why do people pay good money to listen to that cheshire cat? There is nothing there, only the grin. Never was.

David Lindsay said...

Actually, what really stands out here is Blair's strange delusion that he pushed through civil partnerships in the teeth of enormous opposition.

Civil partnerships already do not need to be consummated. There has never been any such need. So what have they to do with homosexuality, really? Yet the legislation fails to provide for unmarried close relatives. That is proof, as if proof were needed, that the point of this measure is to privilege homosexuality on the specious basis that it is an identity comparable to ethnicity or class, or even to sex (which is written into every cell of the body).

The legislation must be amended immediately to allow unmarried relatives, whether of the same or of opposite sexes, to register their partnerships. Then there would be no problem. If it had said that at the time of its enactment, then there would never have been anything more than a few newspaper stories about how same-sex couples were "planning to make use of a new law to protect elderly unmarried relatives living together from inheritance tax when one of them dies".

So why wasn't it set up like that?

See above, I'm afraid.

Henry said...

The only hope is for TB to become an anchorite.

Tara said...

"and implied that he believed the Pope to be out of step with the public." The Pope is in step with God--not the public--we conform ourselves to God--God does not comform Himself to us.

Henry said...

The main purpose of civil partnerships was to address anomalies in property rights, in particular in relation to inheritance. But it was a shoddy business because anomalies remain. The issues should have been addressed at source. Inheritance tax is nothing more than robbery and should have been abolished anyway. The whole business is typical of the shabbiness of the entire Blair dispensation.

Andrew Montarose said...

Blair's opinion on any matter concerning the Catholic Church is off no value. During his term
he inacted some of the most anti catholic legistation in the history of this country. Then he decide's to convert to Catholicism ( no doubt as it would look good in his auto biography).Now he has gall to tell the Catholic's what they should or should not believe. Then again pershaps he is aiming for the chair of St Peter.

Henry said...

Andrew - Blair's opinions on any matter at all, not just those concerning the Catholic Church, are of no value.

Please remember that Blair and his henchmen are the chief architects of the present economic disaster.

As for the chair of Peter, I can think of another kind of chair that would be more suitable for Blair, given his responsibility for initiating and taking part in one illegal war and involving the UK in another pointless and unwinnable one.

Michael Petek said...

Henry, next time you see me in the Jubilee Street Starbucks of a morning, you and I need to have a little talk about what does and doesn't constitute an illegal war.