Bush soon a Catholic? Fantasy, speculation, wishful praying?

April 30, 2008

U.S. President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair often saw eye to eye politically. Are they about to see eye to eye religiously?

Pope Benedict XVI chats with U.S. President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush in the Oval Office at the White House in WashingtonBlair, a life-long Anglican, converted to Catholicism in December after he left office in June. The Italian weekly magazine Panorama is reporting in its latest edition that Bush, a Methodist, may follow his political soul-mate and also convert to Catholicism after he leaves office next year.

To be honest, the odds of this happening appear as good as those of the proverbial snowball in hell. In fact, the Panorama article starts with two sentences saying this “might” happen and the rest of the article is background.

Panorama tries to build up its case by reminding the reader that Bush prayed together with Pope Benedict when the pontiff visited the White House on April 16, that Bush’s brother Jeb, the former governor of Florida, converted to Catholicism, the religion of his wife, and that a number of Bush’s advisers are Catholic.

Father ZThe only other Italian publication playing with this idea was Corriere della Sera, which ran a story on April 17 entitled “Bush, a crypto-Catholic president.” Its correspondent Massimo Gaggi pins his speculation on the Washington Post, which ran a story on April 13 by Daniel Burke of Religion News Service. Citing the high number of Catholics in his administration, Burke wrote that “George W. Bush could well be the nation’s first Catholic president.” At the very end of his piece, he has two quotes to the effect that Bush is a “closet Catholic” and the parallel to Blair, but no outright speculation about conversion. Maybe that’s how all this started and found its way into Panorama.

What I find most interesting is the attention that the Panorama story is getting on some religious blogs. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (left) ran his own translation of it on his blog What Does the Prayer Really Say? Father Z, as he is known, says the article is “a strange item” and is “typical of much of the Italian press”. He concludes his entry by saying “A lot of this article is pure fantasy.”

Panorama article entitled “Blinded on the road to Washington”While Father Z and I have had our differences in the past, I tend to agree with him on this one. What is fascinating is the number of comments and the level of passion Father Z’s posting has attracted on his blog, with some readers dismissing the conversion possibility outright but others convinced that Bush will eventually convert because he was “blinded on the road to Washington” (as in the headline on the Panorama article pictured at right) .

4 comments

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Its a lot bigger step to move from Methodism to Catholicism than it is from high church Anglicanism.

Posted by Tired Evangelical | Report as abusive

Which ever decision Bush takes he will follow his conscience.

Posted by Barbara | Report as abusive

The nation’s first Roman Catholic President? It think that honor goes to John F. Kennedy – born in the Church, and practicing during his brief administration, too.

Tony Blair left the Church of England, the country’s “official,” state-supported religion. That is actually reasonably big news in England. If the current President Bush converts to Roman Catholicism, rejoins the Episcopal Church of his childhood, or affiliates with an independent Pentacostal Church – it is a very personal choice, and that is that. I’m guessing it is unlikely that he will leave the Methodist Church, but does it matter? And why would it matter to Rome, it wouldn’t be much of a religious political coup in the U.S.

Posted by Lynn | Report as abusive

Is he making this step so he will be forgiven for his sins….? What has Catholicism got that the Methodist Church cannot deliver? Anyway, good luck to the man.

Posted by Conscientious Observer | Report as abusive