Tony Blair, Catholic Convert, Takes on Vatican's Stance Toward Gays

The former British prime minister says the church is out of step with believers on homosexuality.

By + More

By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, says in a new interview with a gay magazine that the Vatican is out of step with ordinary believers in condemning homosexuality.

From the Associated Press:

Blair, who formally converted to Catholicism in 2007, said he believes there is a big generational difference on the issue, and that ordinary Catholics are more liberal-minded than their leaders.

"Actually, we need an attitude of mind where rethinking and the concept of evolving attitudes becomes part of the discipline with which you approach your religious faith," Blair said in an interview published in Attitude, a magazine aimed at gays.

Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still a cardinal in 1986, described homosexuality as "an objective disorder."

Asked about that comment, Blair said "there is a huge generation difference here."

"And there's probably that same fear amongst religious leaders that if you concede ground on an issue like this, because attitudes and thinking evolve over time, where does that end?" Blair said.

"You'd start having to rethink many, many things. Now, my view is that rethinking is good, so let's carry on rethinking."

Blair suggested that ordinary Catholics would disagree with the official position.

Such church criticism coming from high-profile Catholic converts, so many of whom are political conservatives who are in step with the Vatican on social issues, strikes me as a rare thing these days. I E-mailed Bill Donohue, a conservative who is president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and is a frequent critic of non-Catholics who pooh-pooh the Vatican, for his thoughts on Blair's critique.

Donohue doesn't pull his punches:

Blair should put his cards on the table. Does he object to the Catholic Church's teachings on sexuality, which proscribes sex outside of marriage? If so, we need to know why he rejects the Church's teachings. For example, does he reject the Church teachings on adultery?

One thing is for sure: he needs to catch up on Catholic teaching. The Catholic Catechism regards homosexuality to be "objectively disordered"—it is not some personal view of the pope. Moreover, there is a profound difference between embracing someone who is a homosexual (no problem there) and embracing the gay lifestyle (big problem there). Larry Kramer said it best years ago: the gay lifestyle is really the gay deathstyle. If Blair disagrees, it would be most beneficial to know why.