Many papers have commented upon this conversion, long-expected but none the less newsworthy for all that. Each finds some of the same and some different angles from which to view as public a conversion as St. Paul might have wished for. Not much of it is favourable to Blair which is unsurprising bearing in mind that much of his conscious day must be spent in personal dissemblance.
I was thinking of his transmogrification in terms of his so-called ‘legacy’. One notable feature of the Blair Government was how it determinedly went about debauching and undermining the existence of and valuable role played by the traditional family in society and espousing those things which were a counterpoint to it: equality in all things for homosexuals, gay adoption, civil partnerships, changes in the law and tax that make living together unmarried and having a family an easy option, measures on abortion and so on.
That I see as one of the fundamental legacies of his years, one which will, if left unchallenged by an incoming Conservative Government, have profound and debilitating effects on family life in this century.
Yet now he joins a Church whose teachings condemn absolutely homosexuality, abortion, contraception (other than by ludicrous methods sanctioned by a bunch of celibate Priests who are de jure debarred from sexual activity), stem cell research and a host of other things so avidly promoted by his Government when in power and, indeed, voted for on numerous occasions by himself.
One wonders, therefore, when, precisely, he decided he was against homosexuality but in favour of the estate of marriage for life, when he decided that it was a sin to engage in contraception, when he decided that he was against abortion but , presumably, against stem cell research.
For, as Anne Widdecombe, herself a convertee to Popery, observes in The Daily Telegraph observes:
“Well I think the crucial thing to remember is at the point you are received (into the Catholic church) you have to say individually and out loud ‘I believe everything the church teaches to be revealed truth’,”
“And that means if you previously had any problems with church teaching, as Tony Blair obviously did over abortion, as he did again over Sunday trading…you would have to say you changed your mind.
“And I think people will want to know that he did go through that process, because otherwise it will seem as if the church did make an exception for somebody just because of who he is.”
In making his move, then, he will have had to sign along the dotted line underneath a set of values and beliefs for which he has shown scant regard in the past, indeed has positively abjured and, in some cases against which he has whipped his party .
Does not the pungent mephitis of hypocrisy once more effortlessly wheeze from this humbugger of a politician?
One gathers that, in anticipation of giving the Pope and his Cardinals something to drool over, Blair will have had to:
attend confession in the days leading up to his reception into the Church, in order to seek pardon for his sins.
Most of us would have thought that there were not hours enough in a day for such an exercise, but given the level of Blair’s hubris, which admits of no errors, I suspect that his mea culpas were done and dusted in a few minutes, including the saying of ‘Good Morning!’ and a few Hail Marys.
Expect a hatchet job along these lines from Rory Bremner in the New Year.
In addition we should thank our lucky stars that the drafters of The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 (1829 c.7 10 Geo. 4) thought to include Section 18:
It shall not be lawful for any person professing the Roman Catholic religion directly or indirectly to advise his Majesty, or any person or persons holding or exercising the office of guardians of the United Kingdom, or of regent of the United Kingdom, under whatever name, style, or title such office may be constituted, [or the lord lieutenant of Ireland], touching or concerning the appointment to or disposal of any office or preferment in the [ Church of England], or in the Church of Scotland; and if any such person shall offend in the premises he shall, being thereof convicted by due course of law, be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanour, and disabled for ever from holding any office, civil or military, under the Crown.
In other words, unless they repeal this or disestablish the Church, Blair cannot return to the office of Prime Minster.
In the light of the Brown implosion and whilst Blair remains outwith the House of Lords, I thought you might like that additional comfort.
Meanwhile Catholic Bigwigs will have gone into a high state of Onanistic Bliss at the conversion of so prominent a British politician (I deliberately avoid the use of the word ‘Statesman’) to its cause, as they doubtless will at the news that for the first time since The Reformation they have more communicants in England than the Established Protestant Church, and that without having to send a single Englishman to the stake.
Mind you, the latter achievement has nothing whatever to do with the inherent attractions of a Church which routinely prays for ‘the conversion of England’: their success has been won on both the back of large numbers of Catholic migrants from Poland and Lithuania and the considerable effort that the Church of England has been putting in on the act of felo de se.