Blair switch to Catholicism excites pre-Christmas comment

By staff writers
December 24, 2007

The decision by former British PM Tony Blair, joint architect of the invasion of Iraq, to be received into the Roman Catholic Church has excited comment across the world in the run up to Christmas, when attention focuses on the birth of Christ, the prince of peace.

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday welcomed Mr Blair, who is now working as a Middle East envoy, into the Catholic fold. His intention to switch allegiance from the Church of England when he left office has been described as one of the "worst kept secrets" of the latter part of his tenure.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O#Connor, spiritual leader of the Catholic community in England and Wales, said of last Friday's service of reception- which was attended by Mr Blair's wife and four children - that it was "very intimate, very prayerful".

Mr Blair, who has been an Anglican all his life, became a Catholic during a service at the Archbishop's House in Westminster. The media have described the event as a "conversion", but strictly speaking it is a move from one part of the worldwide Christian family to another.

Nonetheless, some senior Catholics have been heralding the event as a significant one for the continued rise of Catholic consciousness and allegiance in Britain, with the established Church of England seen as being on the wane.

However, the National Secular Society was quick to point out that the majority 'faith' in modern Britain is indifference toward belief, and other Christians have suggested that it is consumerism which forms the true 'religion' of many Western societies - as well as being part of the creed of all the main political parties.

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