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Did the Pope Give Communion to Tony Blair? Catholics Need to Know.

by Christopher A. Ferrara

On March 14, 2003 the English newspaper Church Times ran a story containing the stunning news  —  yet to be confirmed or denied by the Vatican  —  that English Prime Minister Tony Blair, an Anglican who views abortion as "a matter of conscience," received communion "from the hands of the Pope during his recent visit to the Vatican, it has been reported from Rome."

The same news has been published in all of the major British newspapers, including the London Evening Standard, which reported on March 14 as follows: "[Headline] BLAIR DID TAKE COMMUNION WITH THE POPE. So now we know. It emerges this morning that the Prime Minister did receive communion from the Pope during his visit to Rome last month. At the time Downing Street declined to comment, saying it was a private matter. According to reports emanating from Rome, the Vatican's Secretariat of State granted a special dispensation for Blair to receive communion on the grounds that there is no Anglican church for him to attend at the Vatican."

As of this writing, the Vatican has declined all comment on the matter. When asked about it, Blair replied that his audience with the Pope "was a ‘purely private visit’, and declined to comment further."

The Church Times article claimed that Blair "had an audience with Pope John Paul II on 22 February and attended mass (sic) on the following day with his wife and their three eldest children, all of whom are Roman Catholics. A Jesuit liturgist from one of the Pontifical universities confirmed the story." There is no dispute that Mrs. Blair  —  a notoriously pro-abortion, pro-women’s ordination "Catholic"  —  received Communion during the same private Mass.

Even more stupefying than this alleged scandal at the hands of the Pope is the news that "the Vatican’s Secretariat of State granted a special dispensation for Mr. Blair to receive communion on the grounds that there is no Anglican church for him to attend in the Vatican."  —  even though, as the article notes, there are "three Anglican places of worship in the centre of Rome." (This is not to suggest that any inconvenience to Blair would have justified the sacrilege.)

Just a moment. Cardinal Sodano gave the Pope a dispensation? What is going on here? Why would the Pope need Cardinal Sodano’s by-your-leave in this matter? Only two conclusions are possible, assuming the story proves to be true: (a) the Pope has become mentally incompetent and Sodano is now the "acting" Pope, or (b) Sodano is providing political cover for the Pope by giving him "permission" to give Holy Communion to Blair so that it would not appear as if this was the Pope’s own idea. Either way, Catholics have cause for grave alarm over this latest example of the catastrophic deterioration of Church governance during this increasingly strange pontificate.

The Church Times notes that "the Revd Jonathan Boardman, Chaplain of All Saints’, an Anglican church in Rome, said on Wednesday: ‘It could be significant. This little stone could start an avalanche.’" No kidding! In America, faithful Catholics are protesting the outrageous practice of allowing pro-abortion Catholic politicians, such as Ted Kennedy, to receive Holy Communion. And now we are hearing that the Pope himself has given Holy Communion to a non-Catholic pro-abort.

The Pope’s action  —  or the Vatican’s failure to deny that it occurred  —  will certainly trigger a wave of demands for dispensations all over the world. As Boardman noted: "The granting of dispensations becomes highly charged to those of us to whom they aren’t granted."

Meanwhile, Canon Martin Reardon, the Anglican president of the Association of Interchurch Families, exclaimed: "We’re delighted. It is progress. We would hope that the guidelines will develop to meet the pastoral needs of interchurch families." And another Anglican source is quoted as saying that "This demonstrates the Pope’s keenness to get on  —  doing the little things that can be done rather than the big things."

Once again, the Vatican sends a signal that undermines its own paper teachings. This astounding news came very shortly before the release of the Pope’s new encyclical on the Eucharist. What the encyclical says about respect and due reverence for the Holy Eucharist won’t matter very much if this scandal is not rectified, along with the worldwide ongoing scandal of Communion in the hand and shockingly irreverent liturgies, even at papal Masses such us the World Youth Day fiascoes. For papal actions speak infinitely louder than papal words. If it is true that the Pope gave Holy Communion to a pro-abortion protestant politician, not even a pile of encyclicals on the Eucharist will be able to overcome the scandal caused by that act, or dispel the shockwaves it will send throughout the Church.

Unless the Vatican denies that this scandal occurred in no uncertain terms, the damage will be incalculable. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.