Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Blair's pathetic apologia

Briefing. But look! We're quoted by Life Site News! Their story was picked up by CFNews.

From CFNews: Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, told an audience at Westminster Cathedral in London this week, 'If you are someone 'of faith' it is the focal point of belief in your life. There is no conceivable way that it wouldn't affect your politics.'

Blair was the first of the high profile lecturers at this year's Cardinal's Lectures at the cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Blair's speech at the cathedral is meant to herald the opening of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the goals of which are to 'promote respect, friendship and understanding between the major religious faiths'. But Blair's efforts to promote religion as a positive force in the world, has met with open derision from Christians in Britain who watched for ten years as he and his government 'plunged Britain into an ethical abyss.'

Blair said that there is a trend in British society, reflected around the world, that religious belief is at best a private matter, or one relegated to extremists. But he intends to argue, he said, that 'religious faith is a good thing in itself, that so far from being a reactionary force, it has a major part to play in shaping the values which guide the modern world, and can and should be a force for progress.' 'But it has to be rescued on the one hand from the extremist and exclusionary tendency within religion today; and on the other from the danger that religious faith is seen as an interesting part of history and tradition but with nothing to say about the contemporary human condition,' he continued. Blair's expressions of respect for religious belief have rung hollow for Christians and pro-life advocates who spent the years of his premiership fighting the steady stream of intensely anti-life and anti-Christian policies from Blair's Labour government. A stream that continues under his successor, Gordon Brown.

When it was rumoured last summer that Blair was seeking to be received into the Catholic Church, the editors of the Catholic news site, Catholic Action UK, were incredulous: 'Is it possible that, having voted for every anti-life and anti-family measure put before Parliament, closed down the Catholic adoption agencies, criminalised the teaching of the Catholic faith in schools, and removed charitable status from large numbers of Catholic charities, he's going to enter the Church?'

John Smeaton, the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), wrote in February 2007, at the time Blair said he would be stepping down as Prime Minister, 'In general, there is virtually no area of pro-life or pro-family ethical concern which has not been made worse by the Blair government'. The website of the Cardinal's Lectures, says, 'In office as Prime Minster of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 he transformed Britain's public services through investment and reform.' There are few Christians or pro-life and pro-family activists in Britain who would disagree. Blair was one of the world's most powerful supporters and collaborators in the work of the homosexualist political movement to abolish the traditional legal protections for natural marriage, work which also had the effect of suppressing freedom of expression for religious people in the UK. He personally voted three times to permit abortion up to birth before becoming Prime Minister.

As PM he promoted the practice of secret abortions for schoolgirls without their parents being informed; he has encouraged use of the abortifacient morning-after pill for young women; he championed destructive research on human embryos in the laboratory. His government was complicit in the population control movement, most notably in its support for China's brutal One-Child policy. When rumours were circulating in June 2007 that Blair was to be received into the Church, Smeaton wrote that although SPUC is not affiliated with any religion, 'We would be very concerned at the impact on Muslims and their commitment to the pro-life cause if Mr Blair became a Muslim. We have similar concern for the impact on Christians if Mr. Blair joins the Catholic church without publicly repudiating his publicly professed pro-abortion and pro-IVF positions.'

Many British Catholics expressed shock and dismay in December last year when the Cardinal of Westminster, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, did in fact receive Blair into the Catholic Church without clarifying whether he had repented any of his very public rejections of Catholic teaching. Since Blair's reception in December, no further comments have been forthcoming from the Cardinal's office in the face of what was described by many Catholics, particularly those who spent years labouring in the pro-life movement against Blair's anti-life projects, as a 'scandal' and a 'slap in the face'. Meanwhile, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has told the Guardian that Britain's secularising trend is contrary to the British national identity. 'People are looking for a common good in this country. A very large number of people are saying, 'What is it that binds British people together?'' the cardinal said. 'There is no other heritage than the Judaeo-Christian heritage in this country.' He warned that abandoning that heritage for a 'totally secular view of life' would lead the nation down 'a very dangerous path'. [LifeSiteNews]

Commenting on Blair's speech at Westminster Cathedral, Father Tim Finigan writes in his blog 'Blair is keen that 'faith' in general should be respected as a force for 'progress.' We could ask with Chesterton 'progress towards what?' People of faiths should not be exclusive or 'extremist', they should be 'open' and not 'closed.' He praises Karen Armstrong's 'remarkable' book that talks about the evolution of religious thought from 'earliest times' when it was irrational and unforgiving, to 'modern times' when faiths share common values and purpose.

Therefore he is setting up a Foundation which will pursue the Millennium Development Goals, and publish information about the different faiths in various media. The Foundation will help those of any faith who stand for peaceful co-existence but 'reject the extremist and divisive notion that faiths are in fundamental struggle against each other.' It will promote the idea of faith itself as 'something dynamic, modern and full of present relevance.' Irrelevance is represented by 'stark dogmatism and empty ritualism.' Whether there can be beautiful dogmas or grace-filled rituals is left unsaid.

Reading the lecture, I was struck by how cogently this globalistic pan-religious niceness ignores the real questions over which people of faith disagree with one another and, more, with the humanists whom Blair seems also to want on board the global faith fest. The questions that he raises have been addressed brilliantly by Cardinal Ratzinger in 'Truth and Tolerance' but as far as this lecture is concerned, that book might as well never have been written.

To give an example of how the lecture blithely ignores the practical detail related to the high sounding principles it wafts before us, consider these two passages:

'Faith corrects, in a necessary and vital way, the tendency humankind has to relativism. It says there are absolutes - like the inalienable worth and dignity of every human being - that can never be sacrificed'.

- except in the case of the abortion up to birth of disabled babies?

'Faith is a living and growing belief, not stuck in one time in history, but moving with time, with reason, with knowledge, informed by scientific and technological discovery not in antithesis to it, as well as directing those discoveries toward humane ends'.

- such as destructive research on human embryos?

In the peroration, there is an interesting point which I would like to highlight since I believe that it neatly demonstrates that Blair fails to address a crucial problem for faith in Britain today. He says:

'If people of different faiths can co-exist happily, in mutual respect and solidarity, so can our world'.

The assumption seems to be that it is people of faith who are the problem. If only people of faith could sink their differences and live in peace, it seems, then all would be find and dandy. In the Britain that has emerged from decades of increasingly secularist government, (not particularly impeded in any way by Tony Blair) the far more disturbing spectre is that of the secularists who are militant, extremist, closed, exclusive etc. (put in the other nasty-denoting words of your choice). The vaunted global mutual respect and solidarity will not survive long in the areas where their writ runs. 1437.12

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen