Bishop Tutu has set the cat amongst the pigeons and resurrected the catastrophe of the Iraq war by refusing to appear on a platform with Mr Blair, and insisting that both he and President Bush be tried at the Hague for war crimes.
Even if Alistair Campbell, Blair's former communications guru is right in pointing out that Tutu had already agreed to appear with him and had gone as far as agreeing and accepting his speaker's fee, that has little bearing on the matter. Tutu is perfectly entitled to think twice. But equally, if Blair is to stand in the dock, we would also have to take the entire House of Commons with him. The decision to go to war which Blair instigated on the basis of misleading information was discussed and decided by a democratic process.
But true to form, Tutu has a lot of us scratching our heads. As an advisory member of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, these issues are rather close to home for me.
Both men have an outstanding record in responding to issues of poverty and injustice. Blair was arguably the most committed British Prime Minister responding to poverty in Africa as well as some of the most intractable issues of the Middle East. Tutu is a synonym for political justice. To have both of these men in moral combat is disorientating. But this is not a case of the bishop versus the politician. It is actually an ethical conflict between two global Christian leaders; between a high profile Anglican and a global Catholic. Inevitably God will get dragged into the argument.
Ironically it helps me that both Tutu and Blair are men of faith. Putting aside the important controversy of Blair's decision and the outrageous results of the war for a moment, the idea of two people of faith disagreeing on such a momentous issue is not unusual. The lesson of history is that faith in the same God is no protection from strong disagreement.
We will all be poorer not to have had their combined contributions on the same platform, but we would be poorer still if people like Tutu with passionate convictions kept them to themselves.
- 01/11/2012 09:54 - Superstorm Sandy
- 24/10/2012 09:20 - 'World days' and the 1.4 billion
- 02/10/2012 09:24 - Making Sense of a Good God
- 24/09/2012 14:50 - Give Us This Day 0.7%
- 14/09/2012 13:32 - Less learning - more obedience?