This time it’s not a prison convert, though Tony Blair may have felt that way about his time in office towards the end.
Mr. Blair has converted to Roman Catholicism. Given his station in life, he was welcomed into the Church by the head of the Catholic Church in England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
Blair’s explains his previous silence on the subject this way:
The former prime minister, who during his time in government was heavily involved in seeking a settlement to the conflict between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland, said earlier this year he avoided talking about religion while in office because he didn’t want to be labeled “a nutter,” the BBC said.
That’s the sad slide our culture has taken: anyone who professes their Christian faith is considered “a nutter.” Actually, St. Paul encountered the same problem and decided that he’d rather be a “fool for Christ” than a sage. But this move won’t win Blair any friends, though I doubt he’s worried about that.
The UK’s Channel Four News said there had long been speculation about Blair’s possible conversion once he left office.
The Guardian published an opinion piece on Mr. Blair’s move. At least I hope they consider it an editorial since you couldn’t term this article as straightforward news, especially given the headline — “After 30 years as a closet Catholic, Blair finally puts faith before politics”. Here’s a snip:
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So why has it taken so long? Almost certainly because of Mr Blair’s sensitivity about the place of Catholicism in British public — and particularly its constitutional — life. The only positions specifically barred to Catholics are marriage to the sovereign or heir to the throne, or becoming sovereign themselves, a legacy of the Act of Settlement that followed the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the deposition of the last Catholic monarch, James II; there has never been a Catholic prime minister.
He has kept his personal religious views largely out of his political life. Ostentatious religiosity does not go down well in Britain. He dropped his wish to end a prime ministerial broadcast on the eve of the Iraq invasion with the words: “God bless” on the advice of Alastair Campbell, who famously told him “We don’t do God”.
Lots of closet Christians don’t “do God.” Who wants to be called a nutter, for heaven’s sake?