Blair converts to Catholicism: spokesman
24 December, 2007
LONDON: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has become a Roman Catholic, church officials said Saturday, ending widespread speculation that he would switch to the faith of his wife and four children.
A spokesman for the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O`Connor, said Blair had been "received into full communion with the Catholic Church" at a private mass on Friday night.
Murphy O`Connor, who took the ceremony, praised the conversion of Blair, now the international community`s special envoy to the Middle East.
"For a long time, he has been a regular worshipper at mass with his family and in recent months he has been following a programme of formation to prepare for his reception into full communion," he said.
"My prayers are with him, his wife and family at this joyful moment in their journey of faith together."
Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi added: "Catholics are glad to welcome into their community someone who has followed a serious and reflective path towards Catholicism."
The leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, also wished Blair well.
Blair`s conversion from Anglicanism had been expected for a long time. He regularly attended Catholic mass alongside his wife Cherie, a lifelong Catholic, while prime minister and only attended Anglican services on state occasions.
There is no legal or constitutional bar to a Catholic being British prime minister although there has never been a Catholic premier.