Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of England met yesterday in the Vatican with His Holiness Benedict XVI. The Prime Minister had been vacationing for the week in Italy, and had also met with his counterpart, Romano Prodi, President of the Italian Council.
According to BBC new service, the two discussed the challenges of globalization, as well as the need to combat terrorism. A Downing Street representative said: "One of the themes of discussion was how the moderate voices in all the world's major religions need to stand up to religious extremism in all its forms."
Some viewed the meeting with Benedict as confirmation that Blair intended to convert from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic Church; however, a statement released today by the Vatican after the meeting made no such mention of the issue.
Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, and four children are Catholic. While Blair is Anglican, he regularly attends Mass with his wife and children.
During the meeting, Blair gave Pope Benedict three pictures of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Newman was a 19th Century Anglican leader who converted to Catholicism and was later made a Cardinal. His cause for sainthood is currently being studied.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Bishop of Westminster, was also present at the meeting.
Speculation regarding Blair’s potential conversion has grown since the British newpaper The Times reported that Fr. Sheed, who has welcomed other prominent figures into the Catholic Church, told friends recently that he expected Blair to make public his conversion once he officially steps down from office June 27.