Former UK prime minister Tony Blair converts to Catholicism

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tony Blair in June 2007 at Heiligendamm, during the 33rd G8 summit.
Image: Gryffindor.

Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has left the Church of England and joined the Roman Catholic Church.

Blair, currently the special envoy for Quartet on the Middle East, has long been attending mass with his wife and four children, who are all Catholic. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor received Blair into full communion with the Catholic Church during Mass at Archbishop's House, Westminster, on Friday.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said, "I am very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church ... For a long time he has been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months he has been following a programme of formation to prepare for his reception into full communion ... My prayers are with him, his wife and family at this joyful moment in their journey of faith together."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, senior archbishop of the Church of England said, "Tony Blair has my prayers and good wishes as he takes this step in his Christian pilgrimage."

Ann Widdecombe, of the Conservative Party, was more cautious. "If you look at Tony Blair's voting record in the House of Commons, he's gone against Church teaching on more than one occasion. On things, for example, like abortion," she said. "My question would be, 'has he changed his mind on that?'"

Tony Blair, who has yet to release any official comments, said in a BBC documentary last month: "You know you can't have a religious faith and it be an insignificant aspect because it's, it's profound about you and about you as a human being." He also said that he had avoided discussing his religious views out of fear of being called "a nutter."