Former Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair is taking on Pope Benedict for his staunch anti-gay position.

The BBC reports that Blair told UK gay monthly Attitudes that some religious leaders feared “conceding too much ground” on social issues. He added that views on being gay are “evolving” but understood that religious leaders fear “rethinking” social issues like gay rights too much.

The United Kingdom adopted civil unions for gay and lesbian couples five years ago, a position the Vatican and the pope disagree with.

Pope Benedict continues to rail against gay marriage. He appears at “pro family” events in Spain, often via satellite, designed to oust the nation's Socialist Party that legalized gay marriage in 2005.

And the Vatican has refused to bless a United Nations resolution calling on the universal decriminalization of being gay because it might lead to broader adoption of gay marriage. The UN estimates being gay remains a crime in over 80 countries; some nations prescribe death as punishment.

Blair, who converted to Catholicism in 2007, said religious leaders fear they'll encounter a slippery slope on social issues if they back gay rights.

“And there's probably that same fear amongst religious leaders that if you concede ground on an issue like this, because attitudes and thinking evolve over time, where does that end?”

“You'd start having to rethink many, many things. Now, my view is that rethinking is good, so let's carry on rethinking.”

“So some of these things can then result in a very broad area of issues being up for discussion. That's when I understand why religious leaders are very reluctant,” the British leader added.

He also said that he believed many Catholics in Britain support gay rights.

“I think what is interesting is that if you went into any Catholic church, particularly a well-attended one, on any Sunday here and did a poll of the congregation, you'd be surprised at how liberal-minded people were.”

Blair also added that civil unions had eased homophobia and increased support for and gay men and lesbians in the United Kingdom by legitimizing their unions.