Newly recruited Catholic Tony Blair has attacked the Pope’s stance on homosexuality and offered constructive suggestions on how the Roman Catholic Church can move forward:
The Pope and the Vatican have an “entrenched attitude” towards homosexuality which is less tolerant than the views of ordinary Catholics, Tony Blair says in comments published today.
The former prime minister, who converted to Catholicism shortly after leaving office two years ago, said he disagreed with the Pope’s stance on gay rights and controversially suggested that the Church should reform itself along similar lines to how he re-organised the Labour Party.
“Organised religions face the same dilemma as political parties when faced with changed circumstances,” he said.
“You can either A: Hold on to your core vote, basically, you know, say ‘Look let’s not break out because if we break out we might lose what we’ve got, and at least we’ve got what we’ve got so let’s keep it’. Or B: You say ‘let’s accept that the world is changing, and let us work out how we can lead that change and actually reach out’.”
The comments from Mr Blair will cause controversy in the Vatican which still officially insists that gays are “intrinsically disordered” and that homosexual sex is a sin.
Last year, Pope Benedict XVI caused widespread outrage in the gay community when he compared toleration of gays to the destruction of the rainforests and said that homosexuality is “a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil”.
Mr Blair, who now runs his own religious think-tank, made the comments during an interview with The Independent columnist Johann Hari, who was writing for Attitude, Britain’s biggest-selling gay magazine. Its 15th anniversary edition with Mr Blair’s full interview is published today.
Asked whether he agreed with the Pope’s latest remarks on homosexuality Mr Blair said he believed that ordinary Catholics did not feel the same way about homosexuality but the Church’s leadership was afraid of making any major doctrinal concessions.
“There is a huge generational difference here,” he said. “There’s probably that same fear amongst religious leaders that if you concede ground on [homosexuality], because attitudes and thinking evolve over time, where does that end? You’d start having to rethink many, many things.” He added: “If you went and asked the [ordinary Catholic] congregation, I think you’d find that their faith is not to be found in those types of entrenched attitudes.”
An interesting argument, and presumably one which will fall on deaf ears. Even Rowan Williams is unwilling to actually go the whole hog and subject the Anglican Communion to the reality of social change. If the Church of England is unwilling to move on from entrenched homophobia, what chance will Blair have in prevailing over this Pope’s attitudes and unwavering attachment to religious dogma?