British Prime Minister Tony Blair will convert to Roman Catholicism as soon as he steps down from his role as head of the British Government next week. Mr. Blair, who has had many in England scratching their heads over his deeply committed relationship to the foreign policy of American president George W. Bush, will discuss his conversion with none other than Pope Benedict XVI when he visits him in Rome. Rumors have circulated for months that Blair would leave the Church of England, but now it is all but official.
Andrew Grice, the political editor of The Independent is reporting that Blair has waited until leaving office to avoid possible legal issues:
Although Britain has never had a Catholic prime minister, the church has said there would be no constitutional bar to Mr Blair joining while he was still in office. But some lawyers believe the 1829 Emancipation Act, which granted civil rights to Roman Catholics, may still prevent a Catholic from becoming Prime Minister. It says that no Catholic adviser to the monarch can hold civil or military office.
According to sources close to him, Blair is seeking a role as U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East and may be named that by President Bush before the end of the latter's term of office ends.
Apparently, Blair met with Pope Benedict on Saturday as his last official act of office and was given a "frank" dressing down by the anti-war Germanic Pope. The Vatican said there had been a 'frank exchange of views.' If Tony Blair was looking towards the Pontiff and the Catholic Church for the absolution of his sins regarding the Iraq War, he was not to find it in Vatican City. Blair, trying to put some spiritual distance between himself and his policies, had no such luck. Not unlike Michael Corleone in Godfather III, Blair 'keeps trying to get out and they keep pulling him back in.'Vatican sources said the Pope was unmoved in his view that Blair had been wrong over Iraq. Ouch! Don't worry, there's still time and a few religions left. Can anyone say "circumcision?"