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