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A surprising number think that because of his beliefs Tony Blair should have been denied entry into the Church: But wouldn’t that mean a lot of expulsions?

Nobody sincerely wanting to become a Catholic should ever be refused: their reasons are between themselves and God

By on Monday, 2 July 2012

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives to give evidence at the Leveson inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, Monday, May 28, 2012. The Leveson inquiry is Britain's media ethics probe that was set up in the wake of the scandal over phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, which was shut in July after it became clear that the tabloid had systematically broken the law. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives to give evidence at the Leveson inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, Monday, May 28, 2012. The Leveson inquiry is Britain's media ethics probe that was set up in the wake of the scandal over phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, which was shut in July after it became clear that the tabloid had systematically broken the law. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Sometimes, in the discussion which follows a blog, a subject is introduced which may be in some ways more important than that addressed in the article itself. Thus it was, in the debate that followed my recent blog criticising Cherie Blair’s astonishing attack on women who decide to give up their paid employment to look after their children.

It was an important subject: but the exchange which followed my blog about it threw up an entirely different one; and I need now to return to it, since not only did I not explain my own view as fully as I should have done, but the discussion I provoked was itself inconclusive.

“It was always outrageous to me”, declared one correspondent, “that her hubby B. liar was ever accepted into the Church.… To me it is yet another thing that should be held against the cause of Pope John Paul II’s canonisation (love him though I do). He should have refused Blair’s reception into the Church. The Blairs are so obviously and completely anti-Christian.”

As it happens, I had written, more than once, before the news that he really was going to be received, explaining why the rumours about Blair’s imminent reception into the Church couldn’t be true because of his views on a number of issues, including abortion and embryo research, not to mention the legislation enacted by his government bringing about civil unions and the closure of our Catholic adoption agencies: I naturally assumed that because of his beliefs on these topics he wouldn’t want to be a Catholic. So I was astonished when he actually did cross the Tiber.

But at the time I refused all media invitations to provide hostile comment, since becoming a Catholic is a process which does bring about huge changes in one’s relationship with God (only those who have done it in adulthood can know how great the changes can be) and I was in no position to know what had gone through Blair’s mind as he prepared for his reception. Nobody, when you are received, asks you publicly to repudiate your previous life (though of course you make your general confession): but you do, at your reception, declare your belief in all that the Church teaches to be necessary to salvation. The whole process is a revolution in your life. How did I know what Blair thought now?

Above all, it seemed to me that the whole question of whether or not he should have become a Catholic was principally to do with his own personal relationship with God: what could I know about that? So, to the suggestion that Pope John Paul should have blocked his entry into the Church (though actually Blair was received in the present pontificate) I replied, as part of the post-blog discussion on the matter, “Nobody should ever be refused entry into the Church: this is not some Pall Mall club in which we have a blackball…. It is not for us to judge: there is always a good reason for wanting to be a Catholic.” Well, that brought the wrath of several correspondents down on my head: as you may read if you are interested.

There was also, of course, widespread controversy at the time. This is how the Mail reported it:

John Smeaton, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: “During his premiership Tony Blair became one of the world’s most significant architects of the culture of death, promoting abortion, experimentation on unborn embryos, including cloned embryos, and euthanasia by neglect.

“SPUC is writing to Tony Blair to ask him whether he has repented of the anti-life positions he has so openly advocated.”

Former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, herself a convert, raised Mr Blair’s previous support for embryo research, gay ‘marriage’ and abortion, saying: “My question would be, has he changed his mind?”

….a Church source said: “Whatever he previously believed or did is a matter for individual conscience. The Vatican welcomed his decision ‘with respect and joy’, so if the Pope is welcoming it, it seems a little strange that some English Catholics are questioning it.”

Well, HAS he change his mind? What does Mr Blair believe now? John Smeaton has pointed out that Blair’s modestly entitled “Tony Blair Faith Foundation” is affiliated with some of the most vigorous proponents of abortion-on-demand on the international scene. The Faiths Act Fellowship, coordinated by the Interfaith Youth Core, is a major initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and is, it seems, deeply connected to the international abortion movement through several of its funding agencies: you can read details of this here.

Does that mean that Blair himself believes what they believe? Possibly; but I don’t know, he hasn’t said.

The question of whether someone who may believe in a woman’s “right” to abortion should be received into the Church irresistibly raises another: How CAN he or she be refused, when so many Catholics (like Blair’s own wife) do believe in these things without being actually EXPELLED from the Church? It is clear, for instance, that Blair has been greatly influenced by his friend Hans Küng, who though he has had his licence to teach Catholic theology revoked is still “in good standing” as a Catholic priest.

“The Church’s absolute prohibition of abortion”, Küng has pronounced “is a merciless extremism that could be anything but Christian”. His clear view is that the fertilized ovum is not a human person, and he quotes St Thomas to justify his view. “There is a great difference between the classic Catholic doctrine and St. Thomas Aquinas’ position, because he thinks that human animation is a process and there is not a human person from the beginning,” said Küng. The Thomist view is that “because the human person, presupposes an anima intellectualis, an intellect, what distinguishes humans from animals, it is clear that at the beginning there is not a human person.”

For this reason, says Küng, “a fertilized ovum, evidently is human life but is not a person. So the problem of abortion is considerably reduced.”

Well, I’m not going to get into refuting THAT, I don’t have the space (though maybe I will when I do). But if an undoubtedly devilishly plausible theologian like Küng, who still has a considerable reputation in academic circles, and who is STILL A CATHOLIC PRIEST IN GOOD STANDING (WHY, WHY, WHY?) spins this doctrinal web, and if his good friend Tony Blair is, not surprisingly, caught in it, how can we argue that his application to join the Church should have been turned down? Why should he not be a member of the Church for holding Küng’s views, when Küng is actually a priest in that same Church despite holding them himself?

I repeat; Küng is still “in good standing” as a priest. In other words, he may still preach and teach the faith in a pastoral situation though not, since the removal of his licence to teach theology, in a Catholic theology department; in other words he’s a theologian who is a Catholic priest, but he’s not a Catholic theologian.

I am confused by this. I cannot myself see any reason why Küng should not have been forcibly laicised years ago. Many would call that an extreme and intolerant view; I would argue that it is simply a rational one. How can the Church still give him the authority to teach, on its behalf, that so many of the Church’s teachings are false? But even I, “extremist” though some may argue me to be, do not see how Küng could be actually expelled from the Church, despite his besetting sins (as it seems to me; though I am not his judge) of gross intellectual pride. There has to be the possibility of dying in a state of final penitence, a much more likely outcome within the Church: how can he be denied that? And if Küng cannot be expelled, then it was not, could not have been, right for Blair to be denied entry. Within the Church all things are possible; Blair’s journey of faith is not yet over. It is surely not for us to say more than that about his membership of the Universal Church.

  • Patrickhowes

    Therefore you have experienced the joys of fatherhood.Of taking home that bundle of joy from the Hospital,of watching as that little one nods off as you cradle it.Of seeing them take their first steps,of alughing with them as they crack jokes.And you prefer the suction curette and the sleuce as an alternative?

  • Burt

    Dr Oddie 
    You have started this thread which was kicked off because of your response to my comment about Tony Blair.

    You say a “A surprising number think that because of his beliefs Tony Blair should have been denied entry into the Church”

    Personally the only thing that surprises me is why you even seem to find it controversial.
    Surely it is based on someone’s beliefs a person should be motivated to become Catholic in the first place.

    Your comment that the Church “…is not some Pall Mall club in which we have a blackball.”
    My argument is that is just what membership of the Church can be seen to be reduced to if a person’s motives for becoming Catholic are not carefully considered in the first place by whomever is responsible in instructing that said person.

    In fact I wonder how well catechised those being received into the Church are these days anyway.
    I know of a convert who had been drawn to the faith, The Holy Spirit led him on an intellectual journey, thanks largely to writings of sincere prominent converts like Newman, Ronald Knox and Chesterton.

    When he approached a priest for the first time he was enlisted in RCIA programme and was quite disturbed by the sheer lack of ground covered in exploring Catholic doctrine. Week after week went by with nothing about the precepts of the Faith. Just group discussions about general things ‘family’, ‘God in nature’ etc.

    He says when he attempted to address the issue with the lay persons in the RCIA team, He took along a copy of CCC. Their reaction made him feel like he had just committed a terrible faux pas, like he left a bad smell in the room.

    He became quite disillusioned and put off, He abandoned the program. Fortunately Our Lord wasn’t finished with him and eventually he went to a different Parish (after a series of the same thing in other parishes) and explained his problem to a priest of ‘the old school’ who personally gave him instruction, helped him with stumbling blocks that because of his protestant background were there, and received him into the Church

    The position I am coming from is of someone concerned with what I see today an inauthentic Catholicism. Not just expressed by individual converts, but indeed of highest ranking clergy.

    It was high ranking who knew very well Mr Blair demonstrated no Catholic values.
    The message they therefore send to the world is, that it doesn’t matter what you believe anymore. I sometimes wonder if some of them believe anything themselves anymore.

  • W Oddie

    This  makes my point with great clarity as well as concreteness.

  • W Oddie

    Precisely.

  • W Oddie

    Excommunication is NOT expulsion; with penitence it can be reversed at any time. 

  • W Oddie

    I agree with most of this. My point is that we know NOTHING about Blair’s own preparation (I agree; RCIA is a disaster) or reception or what his views actually are now (we may speculate, but that’s not knowledge) because since his reception he hasn’t said anything we can go on. It’s simply not for us to judge his spiritual condition. 

  • Nat_ons

    No, not quite; the offender against church discipline must indeed have done wrong – but that is why there is penitent reconciliation not immediate excommunication. Some who are obdurate in egregious error may insist that they are still in communion with Christ, his body, and the popes – some current African and US leaders spring to mind (asserting that the pope and his mignons are wrong). A formalised, public and officiated decree may well be needed to exclude the more hard-hearted or wilful sinners .. whose wrongdoing does not draw down an automatic exclusion – here an arrogant theologian or religious (even if wrapped with faux humility in the face of discipline) might fit the bill; the automatic exclusion of the sinner in his doing of wrong (i.e. ‘sin’) refers to an astonishingly few officially defined areas of discipleship (intentional abortion, breaking the seal of confession, cardinals gossiping about happenings in conclave et al).

  • Burt

    “…
    since his reception he hasn’t said anything we can go on.”
    Oh really? how about this headline in the Indy then:

    “Blair takes on the Pope by backing gay marriage
    The ex-PM, a Catholic convert who introduced same-sex civil unions, intervenes over issue that has split the church”http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/blair-takes-on-the-pope-by-backing-gay-marriage-7555115.html 

  • firstparepidemos

    Beautifully said and  much more Christ-like than the elitist, rule-wielding approach of some who have posted. Your story brings to mind a funeral at which a man stood up to go for Communion. His mother tried to stop him because he had been away from Mass for several years. Still, he went forward and received, to the chagrine of his mother. Later he shared with me that he felt Christ call him and that when he drank from the chalice, he experienced an overwhelming sense of healing. That Saturday, he went to the sacrament of Reconciliation and became a fervent Catholic. Rules have their place, but it is God’s grace which brings conversion and when we meet God none of us will ask for justice; it is for mercy that we will plead.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    To relapse he would have had to have “lapsed” in the first place, and to my knowledge he has never recanted any of his anti-Christian stances. Nothing Blair did prior to his entry into the church (and I don’t know all since I don’t live in the U.K.) even hinted that he was open to accepting Church teachings.

    According to your logic, we should accept anyone who wants in (for whatever reason), and then patiently wait for him to evolve into a loyal member. But how is accepting someone who you know will be a heretic good for the church, and how is the Catholic church supposed to be a light to the world when it is infested with (avoidable) darkness?

    As for what Blair might have been forced to renounce….If his support for evil was public then surely his denunciation of said evil ought to have been public as well?

    I am prepared to assert unequivocally that either a) Blair was not forced to renounce his views or b) the confessor had good reason to knoiw that Blair was not sincere in his renunciation of them. Both of those are reason enough to deny him entry, surely. This I can do never having been a witness to his confession, and clearly I am not alone.

    In any case, to avoid the serious sin of scandal, he should have been forced to publicly renounce his views. Then we would not be having this conversation and he would not be leading yet more souls astray.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Don’t you know they let almost anyone into the Church these day? The RCIA course, which I went through over 15 years ago, is insipid and devoid of challenging content.  Having heard the experience of others who have become Catholics, it seems that a ’no questions asked’ policy is in operation, or at least a ‘not too many difficult questions asked’ policy.  Coupled with the complete lack of sound teaching at the typical Sunday Mass, it seems it’s possible to be a Catholic these days without really knowing what that means. The primary message seems to be ‘Don’t worry, everyone gets to heaven’.

    Of course, given the current emphasis on inclusiveness and diversity, any mention of such old-fashioned concepts as sin, repentance, sacrifice, abstinence, might scare people away, or so your typical Churchman and nun of today seem to think.  And yet people are deserting the wishy-washy, pale-faced Church of today in droves.

    Sorry, but the only way I have managed to search out the truth of the Catholic Faith has been by turning to writings from the old days – that is, before about 1960. There’s little or no point in turning to your typical priest for teaching on, say Purgatory, since either they don’t know or, if they do know, are embarrassed by such concepts.  And as for traditional Catholic teaching on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, how many Catholics today realise that the Sacrifice consists of the offering of the Body and Blood of Christ to God, not to the people, and that making reparation for the continuing sins of mankind is one of its ends? (Communion is the fruit of the sacrifice ,not one of its ends.)

     But who needs to hear this, if everyone gets to heaven?       

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    Except there is little evidence they are ignorant of it. It is not that they do things out of ignorance, but rather, that they do what they know full well to be against the teaching of the church.

    Then when they do this they take the more ignorant factions with them.

  • Ronk

     It is one thing to have private doubts about doctrines, and sinful habits, which one struggles to  align with the teaching of the Church, although this may take many years to achieve, if ever.
    It is quite another thing to publicly denounce Catholic doctrines and demand that they be changed to suit one’s personal views. Especially when it is done, as Blair did it, within weeks of being received into the Church. This very strongly suggests (although granted we cannot know for sure) that when just prior to his Confirmation he publicly swore that he “affirms all that the Catholic Church teaches”, he in fact added to himself “only insofar as the Church agrees with my own preconceived ideas, she’s wrong when she disagrees with me”. 

  • Patrickhowes

    But the priests YES!This is why we have spiritual direction and confession in the Catholic Faith.

  • Patrickhowes

    Yes because here is a humble act of contrition and redemption Dr Oddie!But what happens if this does not happen?.

  • Patrickhowes

    Here,here.A marvellous description of heresy!

  • Patrickhowes

    Will we ever know?

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

     It’s good to know I can count on your concise and clear reasoning on this.

    Mr. Blair’s final fate is known to God alone, but we have a duty to stop him adding to his grave sins through lying (which he does every Sunday if he attends mass) and through leading others astray through scandal.

    The only “surprising” (to quote Dr. Oddie) thing is that there are those who think otherwise (although I really shouldn’t be). It follows then that it’s not at all surprising to find the Catholic community in the sad state of affairs in which we find ourselves.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    Not with absolute certainty (although they have both shown to know what the church teaches with regards to family and life), but let me put it this way: I am more certain of it than I am that sun will rise tomorrow.

  • JByrne24

    The killing of children is of course (as you well know) unacceptable.
    However the abortion of an early foetus can be a moral good when all relevant matters are considered in a specific situation.
    I do not accept the view that an early foetus is a human being (i.e. a person).

    The Kung use of language is useful. The formation of a human being is a PROCESS – not an instantaneous act.

    All events in the physical universe require a finite time in which to take place. Even the fertilisation of an ovum is not instantaneous  -  it takes a finite, extended time in which to occur. 

    Enthusiasts of instantaneous human procreation (the so-called “moment of conception”) should ask themselves (and also tell the rest of us!) at what point in the fertilisation process does the actual moment of procreation take place.
    Of course the question (from everybody’s point of view) is unanswerable — however it is worth asking, if only to stimulate the brain into a little thought.

  • JByrne24

    Yes OF COURSE!

  • JByrne24

    Don’t be silly.

  • JByrne24

    I think our honest beliefs DO matter.

    In fact, they are of the essence.

  • JByrne24

    This is not just “my opinion”.
    This view of abortion is one held by many people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

  • teigitur

    You are even more off the wall than I gave you credit for.

  • rjt1

    If I remember rightly, St Thomas held that abortion was a mortal sin, even before ‘ensoulment’. After ‘ensoulment’ I suppose it would have been classed as murder. However, I do not think the position of the Church is compromised. Those who accept the authoritative teaching of the Church and honour its tradition can accept that St Thomas was subject to an error of fact, not one of principle: had he known what we know today – that there is no reason to think human personhood begins anywhere except conception – his principles would have committed him to condemn the abortion of early human life even more strongly. But even if that were not the case, St Thomas himself clearly states that the opinions of theologians must give way to the teaching authority of the Church. (“We ought to abide by the authority of the Church rather than by that of an Augustine or a Jerome or of any doctor whatever” (Summa
    theologiae II-II, Q 10.12). And surely magisterial teaching does not condone abortion at any stage.

  • rjt1

    Even if conception takes a certain time to occur, that would not alter the principle that, once it has occurred, the ending of the human life which is then in existence is wrong.

    Re the humanity of the being which is conceived: a living individual of the human species is a human being.

    The post-’enlightenment’ view that personhood depends on consciousness is influential but not tenable (are unconscious human beings persons?). The newly conceived human being has all the prerequisites for its future life: all that belongs to being human.

    If you work back from a point in time at which you would recognise human personhood, you will not be able to identify a time where you can ‘draw a line’ between a person and a ‘non-person’. If you recognise personhood at, say 24 weeks, you have no reason to deny it at 24 weeks minus 5 minutes…and so on back to conception.

    You say: “the abortion of an early foetus can be a moral good when all relevant matters are considered in a specific situation.” Is that because you do not recognise it to be a person or because of the ‘specific situation’? If the latter, there is no moral crime which you would rule out (try substituting: “an act or adultery can be a moral good…”). If the former, then the question hangs on the status of the foetus as person. If it is a person, then the specific situation can never justify abortion.

  • Alan

    Tony Blair didn’t suddenly decide in 2007 that he wanted to become a Catholic.  He would have done much earlier, but felt that it would have caused constitutional difficulties while he was PM.  He regularly attended Mass, and even took communion until Cardinal Hume asked him not to.

  • Alan

    I do hope that your reference to writings “before about 1960″ doesn’t include such wrong ideas as opposition to religious liberty. 

  • theroadmaster

    The Church like Her adherents is on a pilgrim journey and those who convert to the Catholic global family come in at different stages of Christian formation and discernment, with regards to doctrine and teachings.  Highly publicized conversions, as in the case of Tony Blair, sparked of a lot of heated debate with regards to his moral fitness to be accepted into the Church.  Clearly his positions in regards to such topics as abortion, embryonic research and same-sex unions, are at odds with Catholic teachings, but let us hope that over time, he will come to see the inherent contradictions in his viewpoints.  We are all to some degree or other effected by our human propensity to sin, and to paraphrase the biblical parable, let those without sin, cast the first stone.  But we also must not let positions go by default which are not in anyway compatible with Catholic doctrine, and are repeatedly proffered by figures in the public eye, as acceptable versions of Christian tenets.  Indeed, Church authorities should use their mandate to “bind and loose” in terms of unacceptable positions, and admonish and even use canonical penalties against those who continuously fail to halt their distorted or heretical pronouncements.

  • JByrne24

    “If I remember rightly, St Thomas held that abortion was a mortal sin, even before ‘ensoulment’. ”
    He expressed his dislike for abortion at all stages but held that it was not murder in the early stages of pregnancy.

    If “personhood” begins at conception, and if conception itself is a process (which it is), and if all processes take a finite time in which to take place, the question then may become: at what point during conception is personhood achieved?

    But of course there is no reason whatsoever to assume that personhood begins at any point during conception. It is simply a blind claim – a true “shot-in-the-dark”.    

     It is true that a human individual may be eventually produced from the zygote or early foetus – but it is also true that many cells in the human body have the potential to develop into other (identical) human beings. The techniques for such cloning will, one day soon, be fully developed. 

  • JByrne24

    Your first paragraph simply assumes that a human being (HB) is formed on fusion of gametes. This claim is the Church’s present view, But it has no basis whatsoever in any fact or knowledge.

    The nature of consciousness occupies much current research. I believe people are HBs when they are asleep and not dreaming.

    I do not know the point at which the foetus can rationally be considered an HB, but your point about regression in time is no argument that an HB is present from conception onwards.

    Incidentally your regression argument has common features with Zeno’s paradox (or Achilles and the tortoise). These are not true paradoxes, in an important sense, since they make a false assumption that space consists of a series of points, which it does not. Space (space-time) is a continuum.  

    Your last paragraph is interesting. I had meant to underline the Aristotelian shared by Aquinas and others that the early foetus is not always an HB – but the “lesser evil” argument, I think, can have purchase in some situations.

  • JByrne24

    That seemed to me to be the case as well.

  • Tridentinus

    There is a lot of controversy here.

    (a) Are there any circumstances when someone’s aspiration to become a Catholic can be rejected by the Church?
    (b) Is it possible for anyone to be expelled from the Catholic Church?
    (c) To what extent may we make a judgement on the state of a person’s soul?
    (d) Can someone disagree with the teaching of the Catholic Church (the Magisterium) and still be a Catholic?
    (e) Does St Thomas’s apparent view that a foetus is not human until ‘ensoulment’ post conception entitle anyone to regard abortion as a ‘good’.

    The Catholic Church requires Catholics to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed. The Church through its Ordinary and Extra-ordinary Magisterium. Unless the Church is reasonably sure that the person to be received into the Church has this gift of Faith then it cannot receive him. This is would normally be decided by the instructing priest. In the case of say, a high profile national or international figure who has publicly professed beliefs whether by word or deed which are held to be gravely sinful according to God’s Law then it would seem that some sort of public repudiation of these former beliefs ought to be required.

    There is no such thing as expulsion from the Catholic Church. One normally ceases to be in communion with the Universal Church through the wilful commission of a grave sin. However, restoration to communion is attained by an admission of guilt, sorrow and a firm purpose of amendment not to sin again followed by sacramental Confession as soon as possible.
    Certain sins by their very nature incur excommunication either automatically (ipso facto) upon commission; latae sententiae or for other sins, ferendae sententiae; sentence to be pronounced. In fact the former, latae sententiae, are nearly always announced if they are incurred by ‘high profile’ figures, e.g. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

    The Bull Apostolicae Curae which condemned Anglican Orders as invalid declared that the Anglican Ordinal of itself had no intention but that it was the manifest intention of its authors to exclude the Catholic priesthood which rendered the Ordinal incapable of conferring the same orders as the Catholic Church. This was in reply to the Anglican contention that the Ordinal intended to confer the selfsame orders as the Church had always done. The Bull argued that the sayings, writings and actions of the reforming authors and the fact that they felt it necessary to re-write the Ordinal so that it reflected their heretical beliefs and thereby its use could not ordain deacons, priests or bishops in the same way that the Catholic Church did.

    Thus the Bull was making no judgement upon the state of the soul of Thomas Cranmer, that was between God and himself, it did condemn his beliefs on the evidence of what he said, wrote and did. In the article,

  • JByrne24

    I believe that responsible Catholics, as part of the Church, have a duty to give their views in an honest way and as clearly as they can – even when these views differ from official Church teaching.

    It is totally unhelpful to shout heresy. The fact is that there ARE dissenting views within the Church at a very high level.
    Consider, for example, the many Cardinals who MUST (from the voting figures) have voted against the current teaching on contraception to give rise to the majority report of the Papal Commission on Birth Control – only 1 Cardinal and 2 Bishops supported the minority report.

  • scary goat

     My 12 year old daughter was shown this video recently at school in science (where parental consent is avoided!) I had a big fight with the school which hopefully I won and they agreed to get that scene deleted…..or so we’re told!  We’ll see in 2 years time when my son will be in that year group. 

  • JByrne24

    Blair’s reception into the Church gained wide publicity at home and abroad.
    I’m very sure Benedict 16th was fully aware of this, and of most matters taking place in the world.

  • JByrne24

    ….is that “the present Holy Father” did nothing to prevent it.

  • Tridentinus

    There are a lot of questions raised here.

    (a) Are there any circumstances when someone’s aspiration to become a Catholic can be rejected by the Church?
    (b) Is it possible for anyone to be expelled from the Catholic Church?
    (c) To what extent may we make a judgement on the state of a person’s soul?
    (d) Can someone disagree with the teaching of the Catholic Church (the Magisterium) and still be a Catholic?
    (e) Does St Thomas’s apparent view that a foetus is not human until ‘ensoulment’ post conception entitle anyone to regard abortion as a ‘good’.

    (a) The Catholic Church requires Catholics to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed. The Church alone through its Ordinary and Extra-ordinary Magisterium is charged by Christ Himself with discerning and promulgating this revelation. Unless the Church is reasonably sure that the person to be received into the Church has this gift of Faith then it cannot receive him. This is would normally be decided by the instructing priest. In the case of say, a high profile national or international figure who has publicly professed beliefs whether by word, script or deed which are held to be gravely sinful according to God’s Law then it would seem that some sort of public repudiation of these former beliefs ought to be required.

    (b) There is no such thing as expulsion from the Catholic Church. One normally ceases to be in communion with the Universal Church through the wilful commission of a grave sin. However, restoration to communion is attained by an admission of guilt, sorrow and a firm purpose of amendment not to sin again followed by sacramental Confession as soon as possible.
    Certain sins by their very nature incur excommunication either automatically (ipso facto) upon commission; latae sententiae or for other sins, ferendae sententiae; sentence to be pronounced. In fact the former, latae sententiae, are nearly always announced if they are incurred by ‘high profile’ figures, e.g. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The lifting of such penalties is reserved to the competent authority.

    (c) The Bull Apostolicae Curae which condemned Anglican Orders as invalid declared that the Anglican Ordinal of itself had no intention but that it was the manifest intention of its authors to exclude the Catholic priesthood which rendered the Ordinal incapable of conferring the same orders as the Catholic Church. This was in reply to the Anglican contention that the Ordinal intended to confer the selfsame orders as the Church had always done. The Bull argued that the sayings, writings and actions of the reforming authors and the fact that they felt it necessary to re-write the Ordinal so that it reflected their heretical beliefs and thereby its use could not ordain deacons, priests or bishops in the same way that the Catholic Church did.

    Thus the Bull was making no judgement upon the state of the soul of Thomas Cranmer, that was between God and himself, it did condemn his beliefs on the evidence of what he said, wrote and did. In the article no judgement is made of Blair’s relationship with God. However, he does not appear to have repudiated his hitherto anti-Catholic beliefs manifested in his support for abortion and embrionic research.This together with his post-conversion advocacy of women priests and ‘same-sex marriage’ makes his conversion highly suspect in the external forum.

    (d) As the Catholic Church requires Catholics to believe without doubting
    whatever God has revealed. The Church through its Ordinary and
    Extra-ordinary Magisterium is charged by Christ Himself with discerning and promulgating this revelation. It is very difficult, therefore, to understand why anyone who could not accept this would want to be called a Catholic unless, of course, they were out to mould the Catholic Faith according to their own personal insights.
    Inellectual pride is as sinful as any other inflated self-regard. Absolute belief in one’s own intellectual superiority is tantamount to invincible ignorance when one thinks about. The argument that heretical beliefs are valid because they are shared
    by a large number of Catholics is spurious and makes them no less heretical because of this.

    (e) At whatever time the embryo becomes human is irrelevant. Various authorities like St Thomas throughout the ages have had different opinions based upon the current biology, not religion. Biology is an evolving study and modern biologists stand upon the backs of their predecessors yet still no one can give a particular instant as to when the ‘cluster of cells’ becomes a human being if it is not one already. The advocates of abortion therefore are prepared to kill the foetus regardless of whether it is human or not.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TCLYWRNOBG36K23AAYK3G35CGA Peter

    It is never morally aceptable to kill an innocent person in the hope of saving someone else.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TCLYWRNOBG36K23AAYK3G35CGA Peter

    In fact Canon Law and the Catechism, and the whole of Catholic doctrine and tradition, say that responsible Catholics have a duty NOT to publicly proclaim views which contradict the Church’s doctrines, even when they conscientiously hold such views after having tried their best to reconcile them with the Church’s teaching.

    There are indeed, as a result of our fallen sinful state, dissenting views from Catholic doctrine within the Church, even at a very high level (though never at the level of Papal proclamations on doctrines and morals). This is not something to celebrate!

    Of course Catholics are free to express varying views on the countless specific questions on which the Church has not procalimed a doctrine – (for example, is it better for “unwanted left over” frozen human embryos to be “adopted” and implanted or to respectfully allow them to die?) This is not “dissent”.

    Nobody is “shouting heresy” here except Blair himself.

    You have swallowed a popular myth concerning the Papal Commission on Birth Control. Both Blessed John XXIII in his directive setting up the Commission,  and Paul VI in his directive when re-constituting it, stated specifically that there would be NO possibility that the end result would be a change in the Church’s constant doctrine that all forms of contraception are intrinsically gravely immoral. That was not the purpose of the Commission at all. Its purpose was to research how best to EXPLAIN and PROMOTE this unchanging doctrine in the new circumstances of that time such as the changed roles of women in society and concern about what was then thought to be a “population explosion”.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TCLYWRNOBG36K23AAYK3G35CGA Peter

    And the Popes’ aim was to respond to the argument which was common at the time, even among some Catholic theologians, that the then-new Oral Contraceptive Pill was NOT contraception at all! because unlike other contraceptives it didn’t obviously and physically “interfere” with the conjugal act itself, and so therefore it may be morally acceptable, whilst things like condoms, spermicidal creams etc of course are contraceptives and are therefore immoral. Of course this view today is universally regarded as ludicrously wrong.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TCLYWRNOBG36K23AAYK3G35CGA Peter

    “Constitutional difficulties” nonsense. The PM doesn’t take any oath to uphold Anglicanism or Protestantism. We have had PMs who were Jews, atheists and agnostics. No doubt there’ll be Moslem and Hindu PMs soon.

    Most likely Blair put off his conversion
    (a) because he feared an electoral backlash against it and
    (b) becasue he feared that if he tried to convert whilst he still had political power, the Church might demand that he repeal the anti-Catholic and immoral legislation and policies that he introduced such as same-sex civil unions and forcing Catholic agendcies to give babies to homosexual “couples”.  
    Little did he know that those in charge of receiving him into the Church were so giddily excited about teh prospect of a celebrity convert that they forgot all about Catholic doctrine and morality.

  • Burt

    perfect summary up of the most likely situation Peter!

  • teigitur

    That may or may not be the case. But given the disobedience of Bishops, including my own local one. Lord knows what he was told , and of course if he just read it in the media, he would get a very unclear picture of the real Mr Blair. The Holy Father has the weight of the world on his elderly shoulders. He carries it very well, but he cannot be expected to know everything. As you seem to think he does, and, indeed you seem to think you do, too.

  • Alan

    My understanding, long before 2007, was that he intended to “convert” after standing down, not because there was a constitutional ban on a Catholic PM, but simply because he forsaw possible complications.  So while your theory is plausible, I think it very unlikely.

  • teigitur

    We don t know that. Or at least I don t. I am forgetting about your world authority status.

  • teigitur

    Well there you are then, he did not have a clue what he was doing. if he was taking Holy communion before he was even received into the Church. No surprises there.

  • rjt1

    Taking conception as the starting point for personhood is no more unreasonable than taking some arbitrary time during the development of the foetus (a shot in the dark if ever there was one). To me it seems more reasonable since it is there that a new entity comes into being, one that is not identical with its parents.

    Another aspect: I would claim identity between the adult and the single cell from which that adult came: there is a continuous process of development. On that basis, I would claim it to be the same person.

    Cloning doesn’t necessarily raise an issue: it may just mean that not all adults are the direct result of fertilisation: they can be the offspring of the individual from which they are cloned. (I think this may be the process involved in the coming to be of identical twins?). This preserves the claim to individual identity of the originating entity and of the clone.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Why do you hope that?  Pope Leo XIII condemned Religious Liberty in his 1885 Encyclical ‘Immortale Dei’.  Try paragraphs 25-27.