There is a thoughtful piece on the “poping” of ex-prime minister of Britain, Tony Blair on the America website (free registration required for whole article) “From Thames to Tiber“. Of all that has been written on this not insignificant event, it is by far the most worthy of reading and is written by a bloke who should know, Austen Ivereigh, a former “advisor” (I wonder exactly what that means?) to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (himself soon to be an “ex” – “ex-cathedra-ed” perhaps?).
Of greatest interest to me was the following:
If a Catholic can only serve a government whose every act chimes with his conscience and with church teaching, he cannot be a politician.
Students of church history will be aware that in the early church it was considered that one could not be a soldier and a practicing Christian–because of the inherant moral dangers of such work–and hence many soldiers put their baptism off until their retirement or deathbed (cf. Emperor Constantine). Perhaps–just perhaps, mind you–in the modern world the career of “politician” should be treated the same?
In any case, lest anyone under estimate the importance of Blair’s reception into the Catholic Church (I prefer the word “reception” to “conversion”, although in the case of many of us “converts”, there was indeed a conversion required before we could freely assent to all that the Catholic Church teaches) here is Rocco Palmo’s suggestion for a new Christmas Proclamation for use in Great Britain:
In the fifth century since Henry VIII’s break with Rome /
the one hundred fifty-eighth year of the re-establishment of the hierarchy in England and Wales /
the eighty-second Advent from Graham Greene’s conversion /
the twenty-fourth hour of Tony Blair’s reception /
the whole Anglican Communion (and much of Catholicism) being at conflict…
…Britain has “become a ‘Catholic country’.
He is, of course, refering to the news that in Great Britain today, despite the fact that there are (on the books) 25 million Anglicans and only 4.2 million Catholics, nevertheless on any given Sunday you will find 861,000 Catholics in Church compared with 852,000 Anglicans. I thought those figures a little low even for the Catholics and then did the maths: 20% attendance rate. Australia should be so lucky. We have 4.8 million Catholics with a weekly attendance rate of about 15%.