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Professor attacks Blair's Faith Foundation

Few in the media reported on it, but a Belgian priest earlier this month lambasted Tony Blair's Faith Foundation at a prestigious Vatican conference, saying its goals dangerously threaten human rights and religious freedom.

Speaking at the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences on May 1, Professor Michel Schooyans said that Mr Blair's organisation, which he founded to promote respect and understanding about the world's major religion, actually aims to remake these religions and use them to expand "new rights". The result would reduce those religions "to the same common denominator, which means stripping them of their identity", he said.

The 79-year-old priest, who is emeritus professor of philosophy and theology of the Catholic University of Louvain, said the new system of international law that the Foundation favours will have to be "imposed on the world religions in such a way that the new 'faith' may be the unifying principle of global society". This new "faith", he argued, promotes policies that include gender equality, the empowerment of women and improvement of maternal health. "We know very well what these expressions cover and imply," said Fr Schooyans, alluding to population control.
The professor said that the Foundation's support for the Global Ethic Foundation, a Hans Küng initiative, cannot be realised "
except at the price of sacrificing
religious freedom, of the imposition of a 'politically correct' interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures, and of the sabotage of the natural foundations of law"

Mr Blair's Foundation, Professor Schooyans said, is sending the world back to "the time of Hobbes, if not of Cromwell". It is civil power that defines what one must now believe, he said. "Religion is emptied of its distinctive content, its doctrine; nothing remains but a residue of morality, as defined by the Leviathan." He added: "The rights of man, as understood in the realist tradition, are here put to the sword. Everything is relative. There are no rights left, except for the ones defined by the Leviathan."

A spokesman for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation responded by saying that it was "definitely not looking to discover or create a lowest common denominator among faiths", but that it was "seeking to encourage humanitarian action based on certain values which the great faiths share". Interfaith dialogue, the spokesman said, "can enhance the capacity of believers to understand their own faith better when they see it through the eyes of someone of another faith". The thrust of Fr Schooyans's speech was directed against president Barack Obama and what he sees as his push towards a worldwide government based on legal positivism. Blair's Foundation is trying to subjugate religion, he said, while Obama is trying to subjugate the law. "This is the new version of the two-headed eagle," he said. "Law and religion are exploited to 'legitimise' anything at all."
Fr Schooyans's comments have been largely ignored by the media, yet he is regarded as one of the Church's leading experts on bioethics and demography, has been an academy member since 1994 and is an accomplished author. Like Benedict XVI, he has frequently spoke of a totalitarian trend in liberalism.

The above constituted Edward Pentin's Vatican Notebook and appeared in the May 15th 2009 issue of The Catholic Herald.

Version: 16th May 2009

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