Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Blair to give one of Cardinal's lectures

I read with great interest in the Catholic Herald this week that Tony Blair is to give the first of the Cardinal's lectures on April 3.

According to reports, it has been kept "secret" for security reasons until now. I wondered why on the Diocese of Westminster website that the notification first in a series of six talks read (and still reads, for some reason) "lecture to be confirmed, guest speaker, 3rd April" and then, underneath, "tickets for the above lecture must be booked separately". I should have guessed it would be the recent high-profile convert to Catholicism.

When you click on the "book here" link, it says that tickets are named and are not transferrable. "Photographic proof of identity (a valid passport, driving licence or identity card) and a valid ticket will be required on entry to the lecture," it adds. A further indication of a hig-profile speaker. It's no wonder that security will be tight.

I'm suprised that the news merely made a NIB (news in brief) in the Catholic Herald. Despite the piece claims that the former prime minister will "break his silence about his new found Catholic faith", it does not go into any reaction about the significance of the talk or what the potential consequences of it are.

The really synical side of me says that this "coup" is no less than a parade of the high-profile new convert by the senior hierarchy of the Church which has helped him across the Tiber. It just seems baffling that, effectively, one of the archietects of the culture of death in the western world is being invited to give one of the Cardinal's lectures. It wouldn't be surprising if, because of the naming system, well-know critics of Blair are phased out in attempt to make this a PR stunt.

Readers of this blog will be under no illusion of what its position is regarding Blair's conversion. At the time of the news back in December, whilst welcoming Blair into the One True Fold, it wholeheartedly agreed with the commentators and priests who agreed that a public statement by the former leader - announcing his regret for voting no less than 13 times in favour of abortion, three of those for abortion up to birth for disability - is needed. I also higlighted his government's legalisation of euthanasia by ommission, its policy of distributing morning after pills to girls as young as 11 without the consent of their parents, and the legalisation of civil partnerships for same-sex couples, amongst many other things.

I must make it clear that I'm not attempting to judge another person's conscience. Nor do I hope I come across as a complete and utter hypocrit having a go at someone else's sins. As Psalm 51 says: "My offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me." But since Mr Blair has, in the public forum (and you can't get more public than parliament), voted and legislated on, made statements, and taken action publicly in contradiction of Catholic teaching, it's reasonable to expect some kind of public address saying that he regrets voting in a particular way and vows to accept everything that the Church teaches.

Thus, the more optimistic side of me says that maybe the April 3 lecture is exactly the forum for Mr Blair to do exactly that - which many of his brothers and sisters in the faith are calling for. I pray that he may not only do this but also actively join those of us involved in the pro-life movement in trying to halt the practices which he has so willfully promoted whilst in office.

The lecture, on faith in public life, is certain to make big news on the day - whatever Mr Blair says.