Joy, not Triumphalism

Catherine Pepinster, the editor of The Tablet, offers some thoughtful reflections on Tony Blair's reception into the Catholic Church (in the Sunday Telegraph, via Rocco Palmo);

I would hope that my fellow Catholics will welcome Tony Blair into the Church, just as they welcome other converts.

That someone shares your faith is a moment for joy, but not for unseemly triumphalism.

There may be some, though, within the Catholic Church, who will not acknowledge this reception with graciousness, pointing to Mr Blairs voting record on issues such as abortion.Mr Blair, no longer an MP and having said during his reception: "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God", may of course take a different view today as to what he believes and accepts on controversial life issues.This is not to say that the Catholic Church should, or does, operate its own whip on certain ethical issues.Politicians, including those such as a Middle East negotiator, have to act according to their conscience and negotiate the tricky path between their own beliefs and their work in the public arena.And yet, all of us who are Catholics are encouraged to realise that your belief is not parked to one side when you are not at Mass.Life and faith are a seamless robe. As he prepares for Christmas, a new Catholic, meditating on the Incarnation, I have no doubt that Mr Blair will feel profound happiness at the step he has taken.And I would imagine that this year, if he sings like so many of us, the beautiful carol In The Bleak Midwinter, its final lines:"If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb/If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part/Yet what can I give Him; give my heart", will mean more to him than they have ever done before.

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is the author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination.

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