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Tony Blair Converts To Catholicism

Tony Blair refused to discuss religion when he was the British Leader. Now he has done more than talk about it - he's become a Catholic.

The former British Prime Minister has officially converted from the Anglican Church of England to Catholicism, reports CBS News correspondent Larry Miller.

His spokesman said he was formally converted at a chapel in London Friday night.

"It can be confirmed that Tony Blair has been received into full communion with the Catholic Church by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor," the head of the church in England and Wales, the church said in a statement.

"I'm very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church," the statement quoted Murphy-O'Connor as saying.

It said he had been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family and in recent months has been following a program leading to his reception into the church.

There had long been speculation that Blair planned to convert to Catholicism. Blair's wife Cherie is Catholic, as are their children who attend a parochial school.

This summer Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy, had a private meeting in June with Pope Benedict XVI about the switch, but he waited until he was out of office to convert.

There has never been a Catholic British Prime Minster.

Earlier this year, the former prime minister told the BBC that he had avoided talking about his religious views while in office for about 10 years for fear of being labeled "a nutter."

In England's last census, 72 percent of people identified themselves as Christian. Many are Anglicans affiliated with the Church of England, which was created by royal proclamation during the 16th century after King Henry VIII - who married six times - broke ties with the Roman Catholic Church in a dispute over divorce.

The Church of England has said that less than 10 percent of its members are regular churchgoers.

Britons often express surprise at people who openly and fervently discuss their religious views.

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