Blair Converts

Blair converts to Catholicism

Former prime minister Tony Blair has converted to the Catholic church. The long-expected announcement came shortly before Christmas on Saturday.

Blair’s wife Cherie and children are all practising Catholics and he has been known to attend Catholic services for many years.

However the move was delayed while he was in power until this year due to his fears over mixing politics and religion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that Blair has his “prayers and good wishes as he takes this step in his Christian pilgrimage.

I’m always a bit fuzzy on the exact relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. The CoE seems to be a “Reformed Catholic” church of sorts to me, though that concept is bizarre on the face of it and probably overly simplistic anyway. I’ve also read some about “Anglo-Catholics”, which I think are different and seem to be more of a “Reformed Catholic/Catholic” mix. No, I don’t really understand it, either.

I’d ask someone to help me figure it out, but everyone is so damn sensitive about those sorts of things.

Anyway, does anyone who lives in the UK have a comment about this? Is this move going to be seen as a big deal?

I’m just asking out of curiosity and wondering if it means anything politically. Don’t start a war, or anything.


  1. The story about the split of the Anglican church from the Catholic church is pretty well known. Henry VIII ordered the split because the Catholic church wouldn’t approve of one of his many marriages. The problem of having the church answer to the state are pretty obvious and led to our own first amendment separation clause. As I have mentioned before, the difference between our government and those of most European countries and British Commonwealth countries is that our government gets its power from the consent of the people, not by divine right as they do. It was actually the Catholic church that started the practice of government by divine right. It was their way of trying to stem the chaos in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. It provided a path to leadership, responsibility, and legitimacy for the warlords that roamed Europe. It worked pretty well, but then the Catholic church collapsed as its own political power and success attracted those who were more interested in power and less in piety to its ranks. The Reformation of the church in the rest of Europe made it easy for Henry VIII to usurp the power of the church. It would have caused a major war before that.

  2. some hangovers from the past realy matter in England…being in govt and being a catholic is one of them…daft realy.

  3. Dfens, you are wrong about ‘…the difference between our government and those of most European countries and British Commonwealth countries is that our government gets its power from the consent of the people, not by divine right as they do’. Divine right was only the constitutional theory for Scotland and England until the Civil War, and then after a period of fudging the constitutional theory that came in in 1688 was that ‘the Crown in Parliament’ was sovereign. Continental European powers usually do have the theory that the people are sovereign, expressing it through deputies (that’s why British MPs aren’t deputies but representatives). The Catholic Church didn’t start the practice of government by divine right, either. That was around in the Oriental theory of kingship that spread to the Later Roman Empire (and was the context for stuff in the bible, including how God was viewed – it’s a bit circular). The Catholic Church carried that theory forward after it became the state religion, and then it transmitted the theory to the barbarian kingdoms and helped the fusion of that theory with the barbarian theory of kingship, so creating a synthesis that started to matter more and more as the feudal system declined, indeed helped to undercut it (when it was strong the king counted more or less as first among equal nobles – you didn’t need a Magna Carta yet while everybody still knew that was how it was, including the king and his supporters).

  4. Yeah, the people are real ‘sovereign’ that’s why they don’t get to have guns unless they’re quite well indoctrinated and ‘trustworthy’. The fact of the matter is, you can have a parlaiment and not have a government that begins with the philosophy the government is granted its power by the consent of the people. Clearly none of the European governments started with that philosophy. Now they may have copied the US in more recent history, but I doubt any of their constitutions begin with the words: ‘We the People…’, and there in lies the difference. As for your theory about where the Christian concept of kingship came from, I’m sure your theories sound quite good to someone so ignorant as to have not ever read the portion of the Christian canon we have in common with the Jews, but I’m sure the early Christian scholars spent lots of time studying those texts and not very much wondering what the Chinese were up to. Typically the Oriental view of a king was that they were divine persons themselves and as such did not have any responsibility to the people they governed. That is the exact opposite of the Christian notion that in order to lead one must become a servant. That is precisely why we in the US refer to our government officials as ‘public servants’ today. An Oriental notion indeed!

  5. Dfens, things like the French Revolution did rest on the idea – really only the idea, not the reality – that the people were what it all came from. But that didn’t mean actual individuals; in fact there was even something called revolutionary monism that meant that ‘the people’ were expressed in the single person of Napoleon III. Just don’t come away with any idea that the US system is basically any different – ‘we, the people’ is just as much a fiction. Now, be careful. ‘Fiction’ doesn’t mean fiction in the same sense that a novel is fiction, not when you are talking constitutional matters. It means ‘something artificial’, in the same way as an artificial hip – it’s perfectly real, just put in from outside to make things work. I notice you read ‘theory’ in the same sense as ‘scientific theory’, when in legal or constitutional matters it means something more like ‘the blueprint we are working from’. I should have explained ‘oriental’ in ‘oriental theory of kingship’, too. It dates back to that same period, and it doesn’t mean ‘far east’, just ‘east of the Hellenistic world’ – ‘oriental’ as in ‘We three Kings of Orient are’, basically Armenia, Assyria, Persia and so on to India and even beyond. But China didn’t enter into it, and I didn’t intend to imply that it was (it hadn’t even formed a united empire by the time Alexander took the model from the Persians). It just didn’t occur to me that you would jump to those conclusions rather than taking my remarks as references to follow up if you had any doubts.

  6. OK…………..don’t know about all that, but…….my first two contracts were on missions that were 2/3s British. Most of them were Anglican with a couple (Scottish like Blair, oddly enough) of Catholics thrown in as tokens. Any dislike or rivalry seemed to be based on anything other than relegion, and there weren’t really any of them who seemed to take it (religion) very seriously (Thank God! LOL!).