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On his last official overseas engagement, Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair will have an audience with Pope Benedict at the Vatican on Saturday, fuelling speculation about his imminent conversion to the Roman Catholic faith.
A regular attendant at mass over the last few years with devout Catholic wife Cherie and four church-baptized children, it’s been reported that Anglican Blair would have converted earlier, but becoming Britain’s first Catholic Prime Minister might have caused constitutional difficulties in advising the queen on the appointment of bishops for the Church of England, and in dealings with both sides in the Northern Ireland peace process. But once he steps down from office later this month, Tony can throw caution to the wind, and change his religion.
From the Protestant religion to the Catholic. But aren’t both supposed to be ‘Christian’? And what exactly does that word mean? Let’s suppose that it means someone who follows the teaching of the prophet Jesus, referred to in the New Testament as ‘Christ’, who called people to repent and prepare for the Kingdom of God. How does Blair stand as a Christian in those terms? Not very well, it has to be admitted.
One of the Old Testament commandments that Christ repeated was ‘Thou shalt not kill’. And yet, although Tony Blair has not actually put his own hand physically to the act of murder, (as far as I know), during his term in office as Britain’s Prime Minister he has been responsible for the violent painful deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men women and children in the Middle East, killed by so-called Christian soldiers sent to that country on his orders, using weapons explicitly manufactured by British arms companies with the sole purpose of killing and destroying.
‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’ means ‘don’t lie’ – another commandment blatantly broken by Blair, who used the excuse for the invasion of that country, that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction aimed at the West. There weren’t any. I think he knew. That makes him a liar.
Earlier this week English fashion designer Joseph Corre announced that he would be handing back the MBE recently awarded him:
"I have been chosen by an organisation headed by a prime minister who I find morally corrupt. Blair has been involved in organised lying, to the point where thousands of people including children have suffered death, detention and torture in Afghanistan and Iraq."
How embarrassing for the PM! But true. A murderer and a liar.
‘You cannot serve God and Mammon’, said Jesus, but Mr. Blair is known to have traded favours for money a long way back. When he became a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party in 1994, Gideon Meir, a senior official at the Israeli Embassy in London, introduced Tony to Michael Levy (an extremely wealthy Jewish businessmen). Levy agreed to help Blair to become leader of the party. With the help of four other Jewish businessmen (Sir Emmanuel Kaye, Sir Trevor Chinn, Maurice Hatter, and David Goldman) Levy provided Blair with £7m. This money paid for his campaign plus the running of his private office, and allowed Blair to become independent of Labour Party funding. Levy was awarded a lordship and became Blair’s special envoy to the Middle East, a position he plans to leave on the day the Prime Minister leaves office. It’s rumoured that President Bush will offer Blair a similar role for the so-called Quartet, overseeing Middle East peace work. Ironic, or what?
Above all, the teaching of Jesus was encapsulated in the phrase: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Tony hasn’t done that. Jesus wasn’t talking about rewarding wealthy friends for favours rendered, but doing good and ministering to the poor and unfortunate until they are poor and unfortunate no more. Welfare. Commonwealth. These words once had meaning, just as ‘Prime Minister’ used to mean ‘First Helper of the People," rather than corrupt corporation puppet.
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," is really the core of the ‘Christianity’. Attacking other people and killing them, treating them as second-class citizens, exploiting them, robbing them, holding them in servitude and slavery and exploitation has nothing to do with the teaching of Jesus. And neither has the pomp and wealth and ostentation of the Roman Catholic Church which gave its blessing to the conquest, rape and pillage of the New World, to the subjugation and slavery of the poor in the old.
Blair is a clever hypocrite, and his Catholic Church of choice, headed by perhaps an even bigger exploiter and hypocritical manipulator than himself the Pope may convince some ignorant souls, but most of us see through his Tony phoniness.
As you chant your litany, Tony, amidst the incense and candles, remember the words of Jesus:
"Not everyone that sayeth unto me ‘Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
Have you done that, Tony? Do you do that?
You may shortly discover that you have built your house on sand and great the fall of it!
MICHAEL DICKINSON lives in Istanbul . He can be contacted through his Saatchi Gallery