Prime Minister, a member of the Church of England, will convert to Catholicism in the next few days after a visit with the pope. The Guardian has some details:
Tony Blair will tomorrow travel to the Vatican to meet the Pope in preparation for his conversion to Roman Catholicism as sources in London and Rome said the outgoing prime minister had taken the decision to seek admission to the church.
All that remained uncertain was the timing of the announcement. It was not intended that it should take place in Rome, and might be made either before or after Mr Blair left office next week.
According to informed sources, Mr Blair has been readied for this milestone in his spiritual life by a Royal Air Force chaplain, Father John Walsh, who for the past four years has been quietly slipping into Chequers, the prime minister's country residence, to say mass for the Blair family on Saturday evenings.
Mr Blair has been attending Catholic services for many years, and regularly worshipped at the 5.30pm Saturday evening service at Westminster cathedral until security considerations persuaded him to seek a private arrangement.
He turned to Father Michael Seed, a familiar and gregarious figure in Westminster who prepared the Conservative MPs, John Gummer and Ann Widdecombe, for conversion. Father Seed became a regular visitor to Number 10, but sources say Mr Blair cast around about four years ago for a less well-known, and more discreet, spiritual counsellor.
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A senior Labour party source said: "[Mr Blair] does and always has gone regularly to Catholic church with Cherie and the children. But for security reasons, detectives felt he should not go regularly to the same one or two places. On a fairly regular basis, this guy [Father Walsh] has come in rather than him going to church."
Mr Blair's attendances at Catholic services over the years has not been without controversy. In 1996 he was upbraided by the then Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, for taking communion at his wife's church in Islington.
The couple have also worshipped at a Roman Catholic church in Great Missenden, near Chequers.
Britain has never had a Catholic prime minister, and Mr Blair's lengthy road to conversion is almost certainly as a result of his desire to leave office before taking the final steps. Religion is a sensitive issue in British politics, particularly in connection with issues such as abortion, contraception, homosexuality and faith schools.
Cherie Blair and the couple's four children are Roman Catholic. Her husband is thought to have attended a mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in the papal private apartments in the Vatican in 2003 following an official audience.
There have been persistent rumours that he received communion from the Polish pontiff on that occasion.
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This does not come as much of a surprise. there have been rumours that this would occur for years. Blair's wife and children are Catholics.