Monday, June 11, 2007

Blair to be Ordained a Deacon

I first saw this on Forest Murmurs, and now on Whispers and I don't believe a word of it.

Rumours that Blair -- an Anglican who frequently attends Mass with his Catholic wife and kids -- will himself swim the Tiber have swirled for years, resurfacing anew in recent weeks. However, several UK papers report today that the outgoing PM, whose last foreign commitment in office is a private audience with Pope Benedict next week, isn't just considering being received into the church, but ordination to the permanent diaconate:

Mr Blair discussed the idea of his taking such a role with Canon Timothy Russ, priest at the Immaculate Heart of Mary near the Prime Minister’s official country residence, Chequers.

The revelation is contained in a new book soon to be serialised by The Mail on Sunday – The Darlings Of Downing Street by Garry O’Connor.

The book states: "Tony expressed his strong desire when he stepped down to become a deacon – and a Roman Catholic deacon at that, confirming the often-speculated belief that he would convert to Roman Catholicism sometime in the future."

Mr Blair is reported as asking his confidant Father Timothy: "Would this be possible?" He was told: "It usually takes two or three years", to which he replied: "The fact that I'm PM, could this make a difference?"

The deacon idea emerged in a conversation a few years ago about Mr Blair's plans after he leaves office.

Father Timothy suggested that taking on a formal role in the Church could give him fresh moral clout when he campaigns on climate change and Africa.

The priest added: "He has a lot of potentiality for good. He is still looking for the meaning in his life."

The Blairs stopped attending Mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary last year for "security reasons". The relationship with the priest became strained after he spoke out against the Iraq War, accusing the Prime Minister of moral surrender.

It is understood that Mr Blair will be accompanied by Cherie at the audience with the Pope in the papal apartments a week on Saturday. The couple are expected to spend the weekend in Rome before returning for their last 72 hours in Downing Street.

It will be Mr Blair's third visit to the Vatican in four years and a source said: "The fact that he will meet the Holy Father for his last official overseas engagement is highly significant and must raise speculation over his conversion to Catholicism."

The latest revelations follow recent comments by Father Michael Seed, who provides private Masses for the Blairs in their Downing Street flat.

The priest, known for bringing high-profile politicians and aristocrats into the Catholic fold, believes Mr Blair is poised to join the Church of Rome.

Converts are usually welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass, held the night before Easter Sunday, but these arrangements are considered flexible.

Admittance to the Church is normally a two-year process. But Mr Blair, because he is already a regular attender, is likely to be fast- tracked.

As a deacon, he could help priests administer Mass, preside over baptisms and read the gospel in Church services. Unlike priests, deacons are not required to take a vow of chastity.

Mr Blair, whose children have been brought up as Catholics, regularly attends Mass at Westminster Cathedral and has become close to the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

The Prime Minister's first meeting with the present Pope took place last June, but he had an audience with Pope John Paul II in February 2003, shortly before the US and British-led invasion of Iraq.

It later emerged that the Prime Minister had received Holy Communion from the Polish-born pontiff at a private service for the Blair family in the Vatican.

Mrs Blair, who is a devout Catholic, had an unexpected meeting with Pope Benedict last year when she was on a speaking engagement in Rome.

In 1996 Cardinal Basil Hume, the late Archbishop of Westminster, asked that the Prime Minister – a member of the Church of England – cease taking Communion at his wife’s London church in Islington.

Mr Blair is not believed to have received the sacrament in British Catholic churches since then. However, he is understood to have taken the Eucharist during holidays in Italy where an Anglican church was not easily available.


Physiocrat said...

The best thing he and Cherie could do would be do join enclosed silent orders.

Anonymous said...

Blair to be a deacon?

Anonymous said...

I would welcome Tony Blair being received into the Church; only so that he could be handed over to the Inquisition and burnt at the stake!(since we no longer have an inquisition he had better stay where he is)

Anagnostis said...

After everything we've suffered over the past 40 years, to see that grinning head (The *choke* People's Deacon) over a dalmatic...

Deacon Brodie - now there's an encouraging appropriate precedent ;O(

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't know where to begin!

nickbris said...

He might have to do some TIME first for the "cash for peerages caper"But when he's gate-arrested for War Crimes it might get held up a bit.He may though qualify as an Archdeacon in the Church of England.

newhousenewjob said...

FAST-TRACKED? Are they kidding? Would that be because of his support for the fight against abortion, or his support for the Church's position on homosexuality, or what?

Anonymous said...

What is the evidence that Cherie Blair is "a devout Catholic?" Several years ago an Anglican journal claimed that when the Blairs happened to be at Anglican Communion services, she received communion alongside him at them. If this is true, this is hardly the characteristic of a "devout Catholic."

Anonymous said...

Aren't Deacons supposed to preach the Truth of the Gospel? I can't see Blair either recognising it or being believed if he proclaimed it.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe this is true. So many rumours about the Blairs and Catholicism find their way into the press that are clearly malicious hoaxes that they are best ignored. As for comments on Cherie Blair's own practice, she is typical of many Catholics today and the only reason it is noticed is because of her profile. Let them retire into obscurity.

Anonymous said...

It's time to stop this nonsense about the Blairs.....when did Mrs Blair become 'a devout Catholic',she's far from 'devout' and Mr Blair, become a Catholic....I don't think so BUT knowing some of the hierarchy they would 'receive' him tomorrow..........oh, sad, very sad Catholic English Church.

Anonymous said...

These comments on the unlikey news that Mr. Blair wishes to be ordained to the permanent diaconate fill me with depression and shame. Whatever one's political opinions and views on the legitimacy of Mr. Blair's actions in Iraq, his exploration of the Faith should be something to rejoice. How can we expect people to embrace the Gospel of salvation if all we show them is sniping and cruel jibes? Jesus numbered among his disciples terrorists, tax collectors (traitors) and men of violent temper (S. Peter). Jesus' grace can convert the most stubborn heart so why not pray that God will call Tony Blair to discern his vocation and to follow it?

Fr Ray Blake said...

You are most probably right, however I think that the comments on the Prime Minister highlight some rather important issues, such as what makes one a Catholic, how independant of the Magisterium can someone in public life be.
Should someone in Blairs position be given "special" treatment.
There are also issues such as to what degree should we expect actual conversion or is becoming a Catholic a matter of self labelling, as a Pastor I find this debate fascinating, even if conducted in metaphors.

The Bones said...

The problem is he's been worshipping at Westminster Cathedral while voting for abortion and killing lots of people in Iraq. To embrace the Catholic Faith would involve renouncing both and will he do this?

Anonymous said...

I hope that it is only one of those things that his famous spin doctors throw at us to see our reaction. I hope it is not true because of it is true then for me it would truly be a sad day because the man who partly caused the persecution of my fellow Christians in Iraq and as a first class liar and a hypocrite (attacked the press recently in a speech when it was his administration who used them to such a large extent to his benefit). As an Iraqi it would mean that the life of all the people who have died from all sides and all faiths have no value in the Catholic Church! He should apologise and mean it first then he can re-enter the human race but he is so arrogant so deceptive that he will never ever do that.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Fr Michael Swyer's comment!
Of course we must celebrate anyone who comes sincerely into the Church. I am appalled by the acerbity of the comments. Personally, I am deeply disturbed by Tony Blair's decision to invade Iraq, although I do not doubt his sincerity.
His accessibility to the channels of grace, namely the sacraments, is an important thought to bear in mind. I am much happier at the thought of his joining the Church than I was at Anne Widdecombe's joining, partly because of my own political view being very different from her's, but also because his conversion, it seems to me, is a positive choice, whereas other Anglicans appear to have made their choices as a result of the issues around women priests and the blessing of homosexual partners, which are negative reasons. I find it very depressing that someone should become a Catholic, after being a lifelong Anglican, simply because the Church of England has taken a wrong turn in their eyes and not for positive reasons such as the true presence, the fullness of the sacraments. But, forgive the cliché, "God moves in mysterious ways".
From Chris Driver, still happy to be a Catholic

Anonymous said...

On re-reading my comment, I find that I owe an apology for mis-naming Fr David Swyer as "Michael". It is convenient, as one who is just in his seventies, to plead "anno domini"!

Anonymous said...

By Shamoon's comments, am I to infer by his/her logic that the Allies were guilty of causing Catholic believers to be persecuted while they were under Hitler's boot? I suggest, instead of sniping at Blair, and by extension Bush, for "causing Catholic to be persecuted" he look to the evil followers of Saddam and the ilk the Iraqis let into the country...and the home grown terrorists.

Castigating Blair and Bush for the persecution of Iraqi Catholics is as logical as blaming chickens for salmonella.

Is democracy and freedom only good enough for Westerners? OR is dictatorship and Muslim jihad supposed to be the accepted norm for all time in those parts of the world?

I'm sorry that many innocent people have been killed, but just how many people do the fanatics who want jihadists to succeed get to blow up and fly airplanes into buildings before the west says "enough." If you don't want the west to clean house FOR it yourselves before it gets out of hand. It was you folks who harbored the terrorists. Do something about it yourselves, or we WILL do it for you.

You can pray for the tooth fairy to get rid of the jihadists, but sometimes God's work must be your own.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Any invader must take responisibility for the damage they do to a society they invade. Blair and Bush were so inept in their policies, I would assume that they are responible for all the social evils that have followed the invasion.
For this reason a "just war" should be brief and the consequent evils minimal.

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