Tony Blair venerates the bones of St Thérèse of Lisieux
As he queued with the faithful, he passed a sign which said ‘The Plenary Indulgence’, and which went on to explain that a plenary indulgence is the complete remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. Apparently Pope Benedict has declared a special grant of indulgences to pilgrims to these relics at Westminster: ‘One plenary indulgence may be gained each day and may be applied either to a soul in Purgatory or the pilgrim himself or herself’.
Mr Parris’ response: ‘A Lutheran rage rose in my gorge. Jesus would have been incandescent. I think I’m a Protestant atheist.’
At least the indulgences are not being sold (unless the peripheral stores selling candles for £1 and roses for £1 or fish and chips for £3.75 count as collateral profiteering).
But on leaving the cathedral, Matthew Paris had a surprise encounter (or meeting of eyes) with our former prime minister and latter-day convert to the faith, Tony Blair.
Why would Mr Blair be venerating the thigh and foot bones of a 19th-century French saint? Why would he seek to light a candle, clutch a rose, touch the glass box, and stare at an ornate wooden casket containing a few bones which he trusts are contained therein?
This was no photo opportunity: Mr Blair was anonymous and alone, which rather indicates sincerity in his Guardian-Tablet-Romish piety.
Was he hoping to beseech St Thérèse for a little French-Catholic intercession in his bid to become President of Europe?
Or was he seeking the plenary indulgence to relieve the punishment due because of his manifold (mortal) sins?