In the interview with Johann Hari, Blair said:
"Look, there are many good and great things the Catholic Church does, and there are many fantastic things this pope stands for, but I think what is interesting is that if you went into any Catholic church, particularly a well-attended one, on any Sunday here and did a poll of the congregation, you'd be surprised at how liberal-minded people were."Although in response to Hari's follow-up question as to whether he thinks that the average Catholic congregation speaks for the Church more than the Pope, Blair laughs and says that he wouldn't say that; he goes on to pose a spurious contrast:
"But I think on some of these issues, if you went and asked the congregation, I think you’d ﬁnd that their faith is not to be found in those types of entrenched attitudes. If you asked “what makes you religious?” and “what does your faith mean to you?” they would immediately go into compassion, solidarity, relieving suffering. I would be really surprised if they went to “actually, it’s to do with believing homosexuality is wrong” or “it’s to do with believing this part of the ritual or doctrine should be done in this particular way”."Compassion and relieving suffering are a part of what our faith should lead us to in practice, as are other spiritual works of mercy such as instructing the ignorant, counselling the doubtful, and converting sinners. In practice, our faith should also lead us to be, for example, reverent to the Blessed Sacrament because it is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.
Faith is not about "attitudes" or "policies" but a firm belief in the revealed truth given to us by God. In every age, our faith will conflict with the prevailing consensus on some issues, such as whether slavery is acceptable, or whether duelling is necessary to preserve one's honour. The Church is always likely to be criticised for failing to move with the times. Interestingly, earlier in the interview Tony Blair seems to recognise that the prevailing consensus needs to be challenged:
"If you look back in time, through the women’s Suffragette movement, the ﬁght against slavery, it’s amazing how the same arguments in favour of prejudice crop up again and again and again. Politicians who are dealing with it at any one time face the issue as to whether they’ve got the courage to come up and challenge the political consensus."Blair was speaking about his triumph in pushing through legislation for civil partnerships against what was then a prevailing consensus. He does not seem to understand that the new consensus that he helped to create is now being challenged by the teaching of the Holy Father, so widely vilified in the world's media.
Several papers have mentioned the address that Pope Benedict gave to the Roman Curia last December so it is worth quoting the relevant passage in full:
If the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected, this is not some antiquated metaphysics. What is involved here is faith in the Creator and a readiness to listen to the “language” of creation. To disregard this would be the self-destruction of man himself, and hence the destruction of God’s own work.Since the MSM has widely caricatured these comments (for example the Independent today says "he compared toleration of gays to the destruction of the rainforests") it is worth also recalling what the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is on the question of homosexuality.
What is often expressed and understood by the term “gender” ultimately ends up being man’s attempt at self-emancipation from creation and the Creator. Man wants to be his own master, and alone – always and exclusively – to determine everything that concerns him. Yet in this way he lives in opposition to the truth, in opposition to the Creator Spirit.
Rain forests deserve indeed to be protected, but no less so does man, as a creature having an innate “message” which does not contradict our freedom, but is instead its very premise.
Chastity and homosexualityAll the talk about "homophobia" and being "pro-gay" is a wooly-thinking smokescreen to disguise the real implications of Blair's attack on the teaching of the Holy Father, and indeed the teaching of the Church through the ages. Compassion and sensitivity may be found within the Church generally from the person in the pew, the priest in the confessional and the preacher in the pulpit. If that were all that Tony Blair was calling for, we could all examine our consciences and try to do better. By asking for a change in the Church's teaching, Blair is clearly calling for the Church to say that homosexual acts are not sinful, that homosexual sex is in accord with the natural law, and that sexually active civil partnerships should be accepted and blessed by the Church.
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
Damian Thompson: Tony Blair wants the Pope to rethink his line on homosexuality. What about Blair's line on abortion?
"Well, the Pope would rather like Mr Blair to rethink his entrenched support for abortion, but he hasn't done so, has he?"
Cranmer: Tony Blair lectures the Pope on homosexuality
"Good grief, even Cranmer knows that Roman Catholicism is not like à la carte Anglicanism: one may not choose one dimension of the Magisterium and pour scorn upon the rest"
Creative Minority Report: Dear Tony: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
"Hey, its been fun, Tony. We appreciate you stopping by. Here is your hat and your coat, time for you to go now. We thought this might work out. Sorry. We were wrong."
Ignatius Insight: The (Tony) Blair (Gay) Pitch Project
"All of those who criticized or expressed serious doubts about the former Prime Minister's dedication to Church teaching and wondered a bit about his becoming Catholic will say, understandably, "Told you so!" Some of us who took a more "wait and see" attitude will now say, "Wait, now I see." And what we see isn't very encouraging."
That the bones you have crushed may thrill: Blair Wants to Convert Pope to Blairism
"No, Tony, other way round, Pope talks, you listen..."
The Wanderer: “A sensible reformation of attitudes”
"Given such thinking, would it not be about time we rethought slavery? Being against slavery has become quite a traditional idea in the West. Is it time to ring the changes once again?"
Times: Tony Blair tells the Pope: you're wrong on homosexuality
And thanks to Ruth Gledhill who has published more extensive quotations on her blog than most of the MSM articles and she has also posted up a pdf of the whole interview.
Telegraph: Tony Blair says Pope's views on homosexuals is wrong
Guardian: Vatican out of step on gay rights, says Tony Blair
Independent: Blair: Pope is wrong about gays – and most Catholics think so too
BBC: Blair questions Papal gay policy