The Spectator

A pretty straight sort of Catholic?

A pretty straight sort of Catholic?
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I hope that Tony Blair becomes a Catholic, but I don't think that his being received into the Church will make him one. Nothing about Blair says 'Catholic'. He has made much of his Christianity, but he has always seemed more Songs of Praise than Pontifical High Mass. His enthusiasm for the global democratic revolution -- for liberal interventionism -- is certainly not shared by the Pope Benedict XVI or by any orthodox Catholic.

His position on abortion is not morally serious. Having voted for it in the past, he now says he is against it 'personally'. But why? Does he believe there is something objectively wrong with it? If he does, how can he at the same time regard it as a matter of conscience, something that should be decided on a free vote? That is not the Catholic position, which is absolutist. Serious moral questions are not to be decided by a free vote -- or by any vote.

Blair is not an absolutist. He is a moral relativist. He believes that the Church is wrong to resist the use condoms to fight Aids in Africa, and has implicitly rebuked the Vatican for its intransigence in this matter, for being, as he put it, 'silly'.  But you can't be a Catholic and approve of the use of condoms -- or any other means of artificial contraception. Nor can you believe (while we are at it) that gay sex is morally licit, or that it is proper to require adoption agencies to allow the children on their books to be adopted by gay couples.

It is sometimes hard to believe that Blair is a pretty straight sort of guy, at least when it comes to religion. About ten years ago, he used to go to Holy Communion occasionally at Westminster Cathedral, and was 'bemused' -- the Guardian's word -- when the late Cardinal Hume asked him to knock it off. This story shows either ignorance or indifference on Blair's part. Has he never read the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion? Has he no respect either for the Protestant or Catholic martyrs? Does he think religion is nothing more than a lifestyle choice, and that he should go to Communion with his wife and kids simply because it is ... nice?

The fact is that most of Blair' beliefs are those of a secular liberal. You can't be a Catholic and a secular liberal. Blair should read the Syllabus of Errors.  (So should Cherie: it would blow her mind.)

Interest to declare: I am a Catholic, but I am divorced and remarried and am therefore (quite rightly) barred from Holy Communion. I have absolutely no right to judge Tony Blair. That does not mean, however, that I have no right to a view. My view is that the Prime Minister (for another six days) may need to do a bit more thinking -- some of it serious -- before he starts to dig with his left foot.