Blairs meet Pope
Tony Blair met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican shortly before resigning as prime minister. The two men met privately for 25 minutes and then were joined for further talks by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Mr Blair introduced members of his party to the pope, including his wife Cherie, who kissed the pope’s ring. The couple presented the pope with framed period photographs of Cardinal John Henry Newman a famous British convert to Rome, who died in 1890.
There is speculation that Mr Blair is also about to convert to Roman Catholicism, although there was no mention of the conversion rumours in the official Vatican news release. Nevertheless, one Vatican source told the Sunday Times newspaper that the visit had ‘a very personal dimension to it’. The source also said he could not recall a similar occasion in living memory when a cardinal had joined a prime minister or head of state during his private audience with the pope. ‘It’s a sign of particular attention by the Holy Father to the prime minister and the cardinal’, he said.