Belfast Telegraph

Tony Blair advised not to become a Catholic by Ian Paisley

Former DUP leader Rev Ian Paisley has said he tried to dissuade ex-PM Tony Blair from becoming a Catholic on the day he made his conversion.

The Free Presbyterian Church founder said Blair confided in him before converting.

Mr Paisley said he made the plea during a meeting in Downing Street, where he had gone for political talks, but found himself instead discussing theology.

He said: “I was the last Protestant minister that spoke to the Prime Minister the night before he was made a Roman Catholic.

“He turned to me and said ‘I will be a Roman Catholic tonight'.

“Well, I said I was going to say a few things and I said them — as a real Christian — because this was a matter of eternity.”

Mr Paisley failed in his attempts to turn Mr Blair away from the Catholic Church, which he joined months after leaving Downing Street. The former PM had long spoken of his interest in the faith and the fact that his wife Cherie was a devout member.

Mr Paisley has also urged the Government to cancel next week's state welcome for the Pope.

He told Sky News: “They are receiving him as a king. He's not a king.”

He says the child abuse scandals have justified his lifelong opposition to Rome.

“When the Roman Catholic people are torn asunder because of this matter that the Pope has in many ways closed an eye to, it is time for the Protestant people also to support them.”

Pope Benedict XVI visits Britain next week.

Belfast Telegraph

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