Monday, December 24, 2007

On Blair, Catholicism, and Ann Widdecombe

It can be, for some, customary to express dismay or mock-horror when one finds oneself in agreement with the thoughts of someone with whom you consider yourself to be diametrically opposed politically or culturally. Any note of acquiesence tends to be made facetiously or laden with caveats or with some assertion that one's mind is not what it once was. So it was when I read Ann Widdecombe's observations on Tony Blair's protracted decision to convert to Catholicism.

Herself a convert since 1993, Widdecombe, told Sky News at the weekend that Blair would have to have admitted to "believ(ing) everything the church teaches to be revealed truth.' And that means if you previously had any problems with church teaching, as Tony Blair obviously did over abortion ... you would have to say you changed your mind." Widdecombe suggesting that the church ought to have demanded such a statement from the former prime minister. Blair has not released any statement about his conversion. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has written to Blair to ask whether he has "repented". Of course, he has not. And nor should he. Blair is to be commended thoroughly for his positions on civil partnerships and abortions during his time as premier. Unfortunately, he did allow the Catholic church some leeway in the row over gay adoption but the correct position was still reached.

None the less, I cannot understand his decision to convert. It disappoints me that he is a person of faith, but this is by the by. He is free to believe as he pleases on this matter. I wish, however, that he had seen sense and left it at that. I cannot sympathise with the man in his decision to attach himself formally to an organisation whose fundamental tenets he so clearly is at odds with. Nor do I appreciate why such an organisation should want him among its affiliates (whatever one of those might be characterised as). Doubtless, he has been accepted in some vainglorious and condescending notion of being "forgiven" but surely the damage where he is concerned has been done.

Perhaps we shall see Blair petitioning and lobbying his successor and erstwhile comrade over matters of a Catholic interest in the future. Fortunately, I am confident, unshakably, that this will not be the case. Blair is guilty of the worst kind of doublethink and is a fool to have aligned himself with a reactionary organisation with whose teachings he evidently has no truck with.

Oh and Merry Christmas.

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