From the time he came to office there has been a constant buzz of gossip around whether or not the Prime Minster will become a Catholic. That gossip has become rather muted in recent months – not helped of course by his government’s rather vindictive treatment of the Catholic Church over the gay adoption issue. Could one trust Mr B to become a Catholic in good faith? The Prime Minister understands authority: he has at times been pretty ruthless in its exercise and he could say along with the centurion:
“For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers: and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes; and to another, “Come”, and he comes; and to my servant, “Do this”, and he does it.”
Since he appears to have a rather cavalier attitude to discipline and authority within the Church then both he and the Church would do well to think very carefully were Anthony Charles Linton Blair to consider crossing the Tiber.
When the late Cardinal Hume asked him to stop taking communion at his wife’s parish in Islington, Mr Blair promised to stop receiving Communion at St Joan of Arc Catholic Church if his presence there caused a problem for the Catholic authorities. But he made clear that he did not agree with the decision in a pointed letter to Cardinal Hume which said: “I wonder what Jesus would have made of it?”. This is quite stunning insolence: backchat to a Prince of the Church about matters directly of pastoral concern to him in his own diocese. I’ve had a good look through the Gospels and rather surprisingly Our Blessed Lord is not reported to have made any specific comment on his, Tony Blair’s, reception of Holy Communion, but there is one relevant thing he did say:
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
What that means, Prime Minister, is that if the Church makes a rule relating to matters of faith and morals, it has the authority of Jesus Christ and the assurance of the Holy Spirit that it is right in doing so. It is the Body of Jesus Christ saying it, and until you grasp that, you will not be a Catholic.