Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tony Blair's already met with Pope as we know, but . . .

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Tony Blair to meet with Pope

Jun. 2, 2006 (CWNews.com) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet with Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) in a private audience on Saturday, June 3.

Although Vatican officials indicate that the British leader's visit will be considered "strictly private," Blair will speak with Cardinal Angelo Sodano (bio - news), the Vatican Secretary of State, after his Saturday-morning session with the Pope.

Tony Blair's last visit to the Vatican-- apart from his attendance at the funeral of Pope John Paul II (bio - news)-- came in February 2003, during a time when Vatican officials were working furiously to stave off the prospect of war in Iraq. Blair, the leading ally of US President George W. Bush in the confrontation with Iraq, met privately with Pope John Paul for a lengthy discussion.

This April 28, Cherie Blair, who is the prime minister's wife, met with Pope Benedict. Cherie Blair, a human-rights lawyer, was in Rome for a meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences.

Cherie Blair is a Catholic. While her husband is not, Tony Blair regularly attends Mass with his wife and children, and there have been persistent rumors that he plans to enter the Catholic Church after resigning from public life.

Prime Minister Blair may issue an invitation for the Pope to travel to Great Britain. A papal visit had been suggested for September 2007, on the 25th anniversary of a trip there by Pope John Paul II. But in March, the bishops of England and Wales received a message from the Vatican that a papal visit in 2007 "will not be possible in 2007," because of the many dates already fixed on the Pope's calendar.

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