National newspaper criticised for claiming Blair will become Catholic
ARESPECTED national newspaper has been accused of “embellishing comments beyond all recognition” after suggesting that Tony Blair would declare himself Catholic upon leaving office. The Times has denied that anyone had been misquoted in the article and has stood by its story. It reported that Fr Michael Seed, a Franciscan friar who celebrates Mass for the Blair family at Downing Street, made the prediction to friends at a memorial service. When Fr Seed was contacted he said that he did not know whether Mr Blair would ever be “formally” received into the Church, the Times added. But a senior adviser close to the Church hierarchy criticised the newspaper for “embellishing comments beyond all recognition”. It is understood that Fr Seed was contacted by the Times a week before the article was published and not the previous evening, as was suggested in the report. The Franciscan friar was quoted as saying: “He’s been going to Mass every Sunday. He goes on his own when he is abroad, not just when he is with his wife and children.” The article also suggested that Mr Blair, like the early martyrs, could be held to have a “baptism of desire” and would not therefore require a
Tony Blair, an Anglican, has attended Catholic Mass with his family for years
formal conversion. But the claim has been disputed by Fr Tim Finigan, a parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, Kent, who wrote on his weblog that a formal conversion was still required. He added: “In the case of the martyrs mentioned, the rite of baptism was not possi
ble on account of their being eaten by lions, set on fire, dying in squalid prisons or other similar pressing circumstances.” Downing Street would not comment on whether Mr Blair would declare himself a Catholic. A spokesman told the Times : “This story is
always circulating in one form or another. The PM remains a member of the Church of England.” But although Mr Blair may still be an Anglican he has attended Mass with his Catholic wife and children for many years. Cardinal Basil Hume wrote a letter to him in
1996 demanding that he stop receiving Holy Communion at a Catholic church in Islington, north London. He added that it was “all right to do so when in Tuscany for the holidays... as there was no Anglican church near by”. Mr Blair made it clear that he disagreed with the Cardi
nal, and reportedly wrote in a letter: “I wonder what Jesus would have made of it.” Ruth Gledhill, the Times’s religion correspondent, argued that Christian principles had been important to Mr Blair throughout his period in office. “Tony Blair has been motivated by good Christian principles all along, despite how it appears to many people,” she said. “His journey of faith is evidence of how seriously he takes these principles.” The Times asserted that the conversion of Mr Blair would be a “triumph” for the Catholic Church, but many Catholics disagree. They point to the Prime Minister’s consistently proabortion voting record in Parliament, and to his support for research involving experimentation on human embryos. They also would raise the issue of same-sex unions, and the Government’s refusal to grant an exemption to Catholic adoption agencies from this year’s gay rights legislation. But earlier this month Cardinal Cormac MurphyO’Connor, the spiritual leader of Catholics in England and Wales, paid tribute to Mr Blair for his decade of service as Prime Minister. The Cardinal praised his efforts to secure peace in Northern Ireland and his “constant concern” over poverty in Africa.
Woman had illegal abortion at 28 weeks, says doctor
ABRITISH doctor is considering calling the police to report the abortion of a baby four weeks over the 24-week legal time limit. The GP refused to refer a 28-week pregnant woman for an abortion in February. His colleague referred her to
the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, one of the leading abortion providers in Britain. Several weeks later the patient returned to the surgery on a different matter and was no longer pregnant. She told the doctor that she “had it sorted privately”. Concerned that an illegal abortion
had been carried out, the GP, who wished to remain anonymous, consulted fellow medical practitioners who advised him to contact the police. “I feel decidedly uneasy about what has happened here,” wrote the GP, who wanted to remain anonymous, on the website doctors.net.uk. “It doesn’t seem right that as far as her medical
record is concerned, the baby vanished without medical explanation. “For someone to have taken money to perform an illegal and damaging service cannot be condoned and if I let this go I am condoning it.” It is not known whether the woman used BPAS’s advisory or abortion services.
“There is no evidence to link BPAS with the situation of that woman,” said a spokeswoman for the abortion provider. “We have not been contacted by a GP or by police on this matter.” The cut-off point for legal abortion in this country is 24 weeks. Pro-life campaigners say the police should be alerted immediately.
MAY 25, 2007 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
Dominican priest clinches Anglican theology prize
THEPRESTIGIOUS Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing has been awarded to the British Dominican scholar Fr Timothy Radcliffe. The £15,000 award was given to Fr Radcliffe for his book, What is the Point of Being a Christian? The prize was awarded at the Christian Resources Exhibition at Sandown Park racecourse in Esher, Surrey. Fr Radcliffe said: “On
Kentucky Derby Day recently [a horse called] Dominican came 11th, so it’s good that a Dominican should be first past the post at Sandown Park.” He added: “I am especially pleased to win an award linked to the name of Michael Ramsey. I never knew him but he had an enormous influence on young Christians of my generation.”
Bishops listen to family problems
THEBISHOPS ’ CONFERENCE of England and Wales reported last week on some of the basic lessons it had learned from studying the response Listening 2004. When the questionnaire, which asked families to list their specific needs within the parish community, was launched, it was hoped that the answers would provide strong direction for the Church. To the surprise of the bishops, among the more than 15,000 responses the most frequently noticed request was for family-friendly parishes. This led to the launch of the “Everybody’s Welcome” initiative, the first stage in a threephase drive to support marriage and family life. One direction the initiative took was to look beyond the conventional idea of the family. That meant, for example, examining what the Church could do for families with members suffering from mental health problems, the effects of a divorce or remarriage, bereavement or disability, and for families that include members from different faiths.
Combat ʻnonsenseʼ, says Foley
THE MEDIA spread “all types of nonsense” about religion, sometimes out of malice, but usually out of ignorance, American Archbishop John Foley has said during a visit to London. While all Catholics have an obligation to share the saving love of Christ with others, Catholic communicators have an obligation “to be accurate and to help others to be accurate”, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social
Communications said. “This is not so much to evangelise or even to catechise, but — if I may invent a word — to ‘accuratise,’ to make sure that all who write or broadcast or blog have accurate information and do not, consciously or unconsciously, disseminate misinformation,” he said. Archbishop Foley was in London for the annual media Mass.
Editorial Comment: Page 11
Catholics urged to ʻlive simplyʼ
ACATHOLIC charity has urged people to use the simple lifestyle of Jesus as an inspiration for reducing their “carbon footprint”. Progressio, an international Catholic development charity, has released a short book called Live simply: Let others live which puts forward a theological argument for sustainable living.
Help protect pro-life medics and unborn children
Pro-life medical professionals are facing growing pressures to participate in abortions against their conscience and they need your help. The key issues are:
• Government demands that medical workers provide abortion, without hesitation or delay; • Thinly-veiled threats of severe punitive action against health care professionals who break a strict code of secrecy concerning abortions for children who are under 16-years old. On 23 June 2007, young SPUC supporters will be climbing Mount Snowdon, Wales’ highest peak, to raise funds for the Society’s work and to show solidarity with pro-life doctors and nurses.
Please show your support for pro-life medics and unborn children by sponsoring SPUC’s young members in their important act of witness. To receive a sponsor form or to make a donation, please fill in and return the coupon below. Alternatively, you can contact Carole Adamson on (01772) 258580 or email email@example.com. I endorse the young SPUC supporters' witness to uphold the rights of pro-life medics. I wish to make a donation and enclose a cheque/PO payable to SPUC for the amount indicated below.
£10 £25 £50 £100 Other amount £ _______ I would like to collect sponsors for SPUC’s Snowdon event. Please send me a sponsorship form. Title Full name Address Postcode Tel (Inc. STD code) Email No acknowledgement required. (Thank you for your support.) Please return to SPUC, 5/6 St Matthew Street, FREEPOST SW620, London, SW1P 2BR
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