Friday, April 04, 2008

Blair: I want to awaken world's conscience

Tony Blair has called for a drive among people of all faiths to "awaken the world's conscience" over the failure to tackle poverty, illiteracy and poor health in the developing world.
Delivering his first major speech on religion at Westminster Cathedral, the former prime minister, who converted to Catholicism last year, argued that religions of all kinds should be rescued from extremism and irrelevance to help meet a "profound yearning within the human spirit" at a time of unprecedented global turbulence.
He set out plans for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which is designed to forge closer ties between young people of all major religions, as well as promoting the importance of faith in general.
Its first aim, he said, would be to champion the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the targets set by the United Nations for improve conditions in the developing world by 2015. They include halving extreme poverty, providing universal primary education and halting the spread of HIV/Aids.
He said the MDGs were a "litmus test of the world's values" and were "stark in their ambition and necessity". Mr Blair warned: "We are falling short as a world in meeting them. It would be a great example of faith in action to try to bridge the gap and awaken the world's conscience."
He added that the foundation would focus on the "Abrahamic faiths" of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism, and that it would help people of those faiths "discover what they share" and "help partner those within any of the faiths who stand up for peaceful co-existence and reject the extremist and divisive notion that faiths are in fundamental struggle against each other".
Mr Blair also admitted he had under-estimated the extent of "seismic shift" globally from West to East while he was Prime Minister. He said: "The centre of gravity, economically and politically, is shifting east and it is shifting fast.
"China and India together will industrialise the bulk of their populations, presently employed in subsistence agriculture, probably within two decades."
He argued that the "strong historical and cultural influence" of religion in both East and West could help both hemispheres unite around "common values" rather than undergo "a battle for domination".
About 1,600 people obtained free tickets to hear the address by Mr Blair, who has divided his time between acting as a Middle East envoy, pursuing business interests and developing his plans for the Foundation. He has also accepted a teaching post on the subject of faith and globalisation at Yale University.
Mr Blair said he was forced to play down the importance of his faith while in Downing Street because of scepticism in Britain about politicians who were actively religious.
He said they could be considered "weird" people who engaged in "some slightly cultish interaction" with their religion, wanted to impose their faith on others and were pretending to be better than the next person.
"[There is an assumption] that you are somehow messianically trying to co-opt God to bestow a divine legitimacy on your politics."
He said: "Even 10 years ago, religion was still being written off as a force in the world ... But, in fact, at no time since the Enlightenment has religion ever gone away. It has always been at the very core of life for millions of people."
A major police operation was mounted as anti-war protesters holding placards gathered outside the cathedral during his speech.


George said...

Hi Fr Ray, I have to say that this guy is a real sleek 'slime ball' of an operator. Having spent 10 years or so destroying every pro-life and pro-family principle in the UK and allowing the anti-Catholic forces to gather strength under his 'leadership' he is now lecturing us on Faith from the pulpit of our mother Catholic Cathedral!!!!! It's outrageous!!!

Lifesite News this morning carries a sobering summary of events as follows:

LONDON, April 3, 2008 ( - Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, told an audience at Westminster Cathedral in London tonight, "If you are someone 'of faith' it is the focal point of belief in your life. There is no conceivable way that it wouldn't affect your politics." Blair was the first of the high profile lecturers at this year's Cardinal's Lectures at the cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Blair's speech at the cathedral is meant to herald the opening of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the goals of which are to "promote respect, friendship and understanding between the major religious faiths". But Blair's efforts to promote religion as a positive force in the world, has met with open derision from Christians in Britain who watched for ten years as he and his government "plunged Britain into an ethical abyss."

Blair said tonight that there is a trend in British society, reflected around the world, that religious belief is at best a private matter, or one relegated to extremists. But he intends to argue, he said, that "religious faith is a good thing in itself, that so far from being a reactionary force, it has a major part to play in shaping the values which guide the modern world, and can and should be a force for progress."

"But it has to be rescued on the one hand from the extremist and exclusionary tendency within religion today; and on the other from the danger that religious faith is seen as an interesting part of history and tradition but with nothing to say about the contemporary human condition," he continued.

Blair's expressions of respect for religious belief have rung hollow for Christians and pro-life advocates who spent the years of his premiership fighting the steady stream of intensely anti-life and anti-Christian policies from Blair's Labour government. A stream that continues under his successor, Gordon Brown.

When it was rumoured last summer that Blair was seeking to be received into the Catholic Church, the editors of the Catholic news site, Catholic Action UK, were incredulous: "Is it possible that, having voted for every anti-life and anti-family measure put before Parliament, closed down the Catholic adoption agencies, criminalised the teaching of the Catholic faith in schools, and removed charitable status from large numbers of Catholic charities, he's going to enter the Church?"

John Smeaton, the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), wrote in February 2007, at the time Blair said he would be stepping down as Prime Minister, "In general, there is virtually no area of pro-life or pro-family ethical concern which has not been made worse by the Blair government".

The website of the Cardinal's Lectures, says, "In office as Prime Minster of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 he transformed Britain's public services through investment and reform." There are few Christians or pro-life and pro-family activists in Britain who would disagree.

Blair was one of the world's most powerful supporters and collaborators in the work of the homosexualist political movement to abolish the traditional legal protections for natural marriage, work which also had the effect of suppressing freedom of expression for religious people in the UK.

He personally voted three times to permit abortion up to birth before becoming Prime Minister. As PM he promoted the practice of secret abortions for schoolgirls without their parents being informed; he has encouraged use of the abortifacient morning-after pill for young women; he championed destructive research on human embryos in the laboratory. His government was complicit in the population control movement, most notably in its support for China's brutal One-Child policy.

When rumours were circulating in June 2007 that Blair was to be received into the Church, Smeaton wrote that although SPUC is not affiliated with any religion, "We would be very concerned at the impact on Muslims and their commitment to the pro-life cause if Mr Blair became a Muslim. We have similar concern for the impact on Christians if Mr. Blair joins the Catholic church without publicly repudiating his publicly professed pro-abortion and pro-IVF positions."

Many British Catholics expressed shock and dismay in December last year when the Cardinal of Westminster, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, did in fact receive Blair into the Catholic Church without clarifying whether he had repented any of his very public rejections of Catholic teaching.

Since Blair's reception in December, no further comments have been forthcoming from the Cardinal's office in the face of what was described by many Catholics, particularly those who spent years labouring in the pro-life movement against Blair's anti-life projects, as a "scandal" and a "slap in the face".

Meanwhile, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has told the Guardian that Britain's secularising trend is contrary to the British national identity. "People are looking for a common good in this country. A very large number of people are saying, 'What is it that binds British people together?'" the cardinal said. "There is no other heritage than the Judaeo-Christian heritage in this country." He warned that abandoning that heritage for a "totally secular view of life" would lead the nation down "a very dangerous path".

Please can we have a Cardinal SOON who actually promotes this Judaeo-Christian heritage in our Country!! Before we are all politically gagged then swamped completely by either islam or secularism, perhaps a mix of both!

Mulier Fortis said...

"I want to awaken the world's conscience"

Shame he doesn't seem to have properly awoken his own... he said that he wouldn't change any of the decisions he made as PM... presumably that includes his pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-euthanasia voting record.

Anonymous said...

Aaaaaah! Look at them ! (the protesters).

Since Saddam Hussein ceased to be they've been like sheep without a shepherd!

Joe said...

Full text of Tony Blair's talk available on the Westminster Diocese website.

I was struck, on a very quick reading, by references to faith and reason. I will be going back to have closer look at the whole address, as I think it might prove to be significant.

Anonymous said...

George: promoting the 'Judaeo-Christian heritage' doesn't have to mean imposing it on the population as a whole.

George said...

Anonymous - everything that is still good and wholesome about the UK this Country of ours, and there are many many good things not least of which is our freedom, (just about) remains firmly rooted in our Judaeo-Christian heritage. And thank God for that otherwise we would still be sacrificing human beings to the wood spirits for a good carrot harvest!

Remove the Judaeo-Christian heritage completely and you then have a country without a 'compass', with no leadership or moral code, where anything goes because that is the relativistic nature of secularism. Just look around you to see if that isn't already happening.

'Imposing it upon the population as a whole....' Get a life anonymous, start using your brains and think things through before you talk out of your ****!!!

Volpius Leonius said...

Who is talking about imposing it on others? But if you believe something then you should vote for it don't you think?

Isn't that what democracy is supposed to be about?

It isn't democracy if you have to vote with the party or lose your vote, that is oligarchy.

PeterHWright said...

"Improve conditions in the developing world by 2015."

Why is Tony Blair still wanting to "set targets" for everything ?

We heard enough of that sort of talk when he was in office.

Joe said...

I have just put up a long post about the transcript of Tony Blair's lecture at Catholic Commentary. I will be interested to receive any comments!

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