Now Blair is on the front page of yesterday's L'Osservatore Romana Italian daily edition.
Whispers in the Loggia provides an English translation.
In his article Blair says of course refers to Newman's oft-quoted talk of the supremacy of conscience and writes:
Newman defined the consensus of the entire "body of the faithful" on doctrinal questions as "the voice of the infallible Church." I ask myself if this voice is likewise taken seriously enough or if we have we have understood fully the implications of these ideas. The tendency of some religious leaders to insert a great number of differing ideas in one big package with the label of "secularism" and then consider it as something of the Left creates divisions in pluralist societies. This precludes the Church from possibilities of new developments of thought. The dialogues of the Popes with important secular thinkers are, by contrast, a very different example.The Church however says that the assent of the faithful to infallible doctrines may never be lacking. It is not the assent that makes them infallible. The faithful must assent. Pope Benedict of course is a wonderful example of a man who has sought dialogue with the secular world and with other religions. Far from the Church being closed to opportunities of new development, it is the secular world and other religions that appear to have difficulty dialoging with the likes of Pope Benedict.
We know very well that Mr Blair dissents from significant teachings of the Church on such topics as abortion, embryo experimentation, contraception, the provision of abortion and contraceptive services to girls under 16 even without parental consent, homsexuality, civil partnerships/gay marriage, the ordination of men only to the priesthood, etc. His wife, too, is a great dissenter.
Perhaps Mr Blair would do well to meditate on the following words of John Henry Newman:
There are kings of the earth who have despotic authority, which their subjects obey indeed but disown in their hearts; but we must never murmur at that absolute rule which the Sovereign Pontiff has over us, because it is given to him by Christ, and, in obeying him, we are obeying his Lord. We must never suffer ourselves to doubt, that, in his government of the Church, he is guided by an intelligence more than human. His yoke is the yoke of Christ, he has the responsibility of his own acts, not we; and to his Lord must he render account, not to us. Even in secular matters it is ever safe to be on his side, dangerous to be on the side of his enemies. Our duty is,-not indeed to mix up Christ's Vicar with this or that party of men, because he in his high station is above all parties,-but to look at his formal deeds, and to follow him whither he goeth, and never to desert him, however we may be tried, but to defend him at all hazards, and against all comers, as a son would a father, and as a wife a husband, knowing that his cause is the cause of God... We are not engaged in a mere conflict between progress and reaction, modern ideas and new, philosophy and theology, but in what is infinitely higher, in one scene of that never-ending conflict which is waged between our Redeemer and the Evil One, between the Church and the world'.(October 7 1866 – Birmingham Oratory Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 15)
(With thanks to Fr Chris Findlay-Wilson.)
Newmans speaks not so much of dialogue with the world but of a never-ending conflict between the Church and the world and, indeed, St John speaks of the very same in his letters.
John Smeaton of SPUC gives a further coherent critique of Blair.
I have not renewed my subscription to the English Edition of L'Osservatore Romano.