One of Britian’s most well-known Catholics has expressed his support for a proposed same-sex marriage law. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who converted to Catholicism, joining the faith of his wife and children, said he “strongly supports” same-sex marriage. From The Independent:
Today the campaign against gay marriage is stepped up with a letter from two archbishops to be read to Catholic congregations across England and Wales at mass. The letter will claim that the new law would undermine the institutions of marriage and the family.
But despite the backlash, the Prime Minister and many members of his Cabinet are fully behind the plans. In a significant boost to Mr Cameron, Mr Blair – one of the best known Catholics in Britain – has told friends he "strongly supports the Prime Minister's proposal".
Mr Blair's position is likely to anger the Vatican, which is alarmed at moves in both the UK and the US for same-sex unions. Senior church figures are also opposed to church blessings of same-sex civil partnerships. Mr Blair was responsible for pushing through laws on civil partnerships and lowering the age of consent for homosexuals to 16, but he has remained silent on the issue of gay marriage until now.
When Mr Blair joined the Catholic Church, six months after leaving Downing Street, the Vatican's chief spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said his conversion "can only arouse joy and respect". He joined because his wife, Cherie, is a Catholic and their four children were brought up in the church. But Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister and also a Catholic convert, complained that his record as prime minister clashed with the church's teachings.
The Tablet reports that there is indeed pushback from the Vatican:
A senior Vatican figure has rebuked Tony Blair after it was reported at the weekend that he "strongly supports the Prime Minister's proposal" to legalise gay marriage.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, had harsh words for the former Prime Minister, who became a Catholic in 2007 and whose comments were reported in the Independent on Sunday.
He said: "If the stories in the press about Blair's thinking are true, I think he should examine his conscience carefully", Vatican Insider reported.
Leaders in the Church of England have joined Catholic officials in opposing same-sex marriage.