Tony Blair Converts to Catholicism
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has left the Church of England and converted to Catholicism, the faith of his wife and children.Blair converted during a Mass Friday night at the private London chapel of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the church said.”I’m very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church,” Murphy-O’Connor said.
The church said Blair had been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months had been following a program leading to his reception into the church.
There had long been speculation that Blair planned to convert to Catholicism.
Although he was an Anglican, Blair attended Catholic Masses at Westminster Cathedral, while on holiday in Italy, and with his wife Cherie at 10 Downing St.
The couple’s children have attended Catholic schools.
Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy, met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in June, the month he stepped down as Britain’s prime minister.
The Church of England has said that less than 10 percent of its members are regular churchgoers.
Earlier this year, Blair told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he had avoided talking about his religious views while in office for about 10 years for fear of being labeled “a nutter.”
Alastair Campbell, Blair’s director of strategy and communications, once intervened in an interview, preventing the prime minister from answering a question about his Christianity, saying, “We don’t do God”.
But in an interview on ITV in 2006, Blair referred to the role of his Christian faith in his decision to go to war in Iraq, saying that he had prayed about the issue and that God would judge him for his decision.
“I think if you have faith about these things, you realize that judgment is made by other people and if you believe in God, it’s made by God as well,” Blair said at the time.
In England’s last census, 72 percent of people identified themselves as Christian. Many are Anglicans affiliated with the Church of England, which was created by royal proclamation during the 16th century after King Henry VIII — who married six times — broke ties with the Roman Catholic Church in a dispute over divorce.