Pope Benedict XVI has confirmed that Tony Blair, and not Cardinal Henry Newman, will begin the path to sainthood by being beatified in Birmingham on Thursday. “We need to promote a high-profile English convert, and felt that Newman was just a bit, you know, old. And dead.” said a spokesman.
Despite reports of thousands of T-shirts being printed with the slogan ‘Blair saw the light – why not you?’, the Vatican strenuously denies that the beatification is a cynical attempt to poach members from the Church of England.
“He’s had real miracles attributed to him” continued the spokesman. “There’s the ex-nihilo creation of weapons of mass destruction in the middle east, the astonishing conception of his son in a royal stable block, and the dream-like appearance to several 30-something virgins in the Tunbridge Wells area urging them to vote labour in May 1997 - to name but a few.”
Mr Blair refused to comment, but is understood to be working on a revised version of his autobiography. The updated edition could see the title change to ‘Apologia pro vita sua’ and the journey end with Blair ‘at the steps to the seventh heaven, interceding to God on behalf of the rich, sorry, poor’.
But there are signs that the beatification might be yet another PR disaster for the Roman Catholic church, with the Vatican failing to appreciate just how unpopular Blair is in England. Some also questioned the sincerity of Blair’s conversion.
‘Did he really become Catholic, or has he always been just another High Church Tory in disguise?’ said one.