Tony Blair criticizes Vatican attitude toward gays

Posted on 09 Apr 2009 at 6:04pm
By Associated Press

Former British prime minister says most Catholics more liberal than church’s leaders

LONDON — Roman Catholic leaders are out of step with ordinary believers in their attitude toward gays and lesbians, former Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview published Wednesday, April 8.

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.

"Look, there are many good and great things the Catholic Church does, and there are many fantastic things this pope stands for," Blair said.

"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."

Blair attended Catholic services with his family throughout his time as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, but formally remained a member of the Church of England. He joined the Catholic Church after leaving office.

Last year he launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which aims to fight extremism, organize faith groups against poverty and illness and educate people worldwide about religions other than their own.

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