Page last updated at 01:31 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Blair explains Catholicism move

Tony Blair on his conversion to Catholicism

Tony Blair has been explaining his decision to delay converting to Roman Catholicism until after he had resigned as prime minister.

He said it would have been a "palaver" if he had acted while in office.

In a BBC interview, Mr Blair denied suggestions he had delayed the decision out of fear it would be harder to be prime minister as a Roman Catholic.

He attended Mass for 25 years and brought up his children as Catholics before his conversion in 2007.

Mr Blair said he feared talking about his religious beliefs during his time in Downing Street would lead to people dismissing him as a "nutter".

But Mr Blair said he regretted he had not been more adventurous in referring to his own faith while he was prime minister.

The comments were made in an interview for a BBC1 programme called Christmas Voices, broadcast on Sunday.

Christian values

Mr Blair argued some people would have found it comforting to think the person leading them had some sense of "spiritual value".

He said: "It's sad in a way that people feel you can't talk about something that is important to who you are.

"Maybe I became too sensitive to that or too cautious about it, but I just came to the conclusion that if I started talking about God it was going to be difficult."

But the BBC's religious correspondent Robert Pigott said some Roman Catholics have suggested the influence of Christian values had diminished sharply during his term of office.

Some even suggested Mr Blair's voting record had often gone against the Church's teaching, he added.

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