From the New York Times:
LAST week, Tony Blair outlined his plans for easing the economic crisis in Gaza, in his role as a Middle East facilitator. And that’s all he is these days, a long step down from the prime minister’s office, which he resigned last summer. The point was made bluntly then by a State Department spokesman, Tom Casey: “There’s certainly no envisioning that this individual would be a negotiator between the Israelis and Palestinians.”From the Telegraph:
Learning to accept such slights with humility is said to be one of the consolations of religion, and Mr. Blair is evidently about to take an important step on his personal path, which he discussed with Pope Benedict XVI, it was reported, on his last visit to Rome as prime minister.
The authoritative Catholic paper The Tablet of London now writes that, some time before Christmas, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair will at last be received into the Roman Catholic Church by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales....
Mr Blair's desire to become a Catholic has been an open secret for years, but doing this while still at Number 10 would have been controversial as some lawyers believe that the 1829 Emancipation Act, which gave Roman Catholics full civil rights, may still prevent a Catholic from becoming prime minister.
Clauses in the Act state that no Catholic adviser to the monarch can hold civil or military office. Also, it would have caused a potential conflict with his role in choosing Church of England bishops.
Despite being asked by Cardinal Basil Hume, the previous Archbishop of Westminster, to desist from receiving Communion because he has not converted to Catholicism, Mr Blair received Communion from Fr Michael Seed while he was at Downing Street and from Fr Timothy Russ and Fr Walsh at Chequers.
He also attended Mass at Westminster Cathedral with his family, who are all Catholics - his two sons attended the London Oratory, a Catholic school.
Areas that he must cover before he can become a Catholic include the Creed, prayer life and the Church's doctrine.
It is believed that he will be received into the Church by the cardinal. During the service he will recite the Nicene Creed and make a formal declaration that reads: "I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God."
Mr Blair was initially introduced to religion by Peter Thomson, an Australian priest, during his time at Oxford University where he was prepared for confirmation by Graham Dow, an evangelical Anglican cleric who is now Bishop of Carlisle.