Holy See Welcomes Blair's Decision to Convert

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Tony Blair's decision to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church has been welcomed "with respect" by the Holy See, according to a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, commented on the conversion to Catholicism of the former British prime minister. This is "good news that we welcome with respect," he said. "Catholics are glad to welcome into their community those who, through a serious and reflective journey, convert to Catholicism."

The Archdiocese of Westminster reported that the private ceremony of reception took place Friday.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, said: "I am very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church. For a long time he has been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months he has been following a program of formation to prepare for his reception into full communion.

"My prayers are with him, his wife and family at this joyful moment in their journey of faith together."

For his part, Archbishop Rowan Williams, the leader of the Anglican Communion, to which Blair had belonged, wished the convert every good in his spiritual journey.