by Steven Ertelt
June 25, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Pope Benedict XVI met with outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Saturday. While the public appearance of the two together appeared conciliatory, the Catholic leader reportedly aired his concerns with Blair’s policies on abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
Vatican officials told the London Times that the two leaders had a "frank exchange" on "particularly delicate subjects" — a nice way of saying they debated key issues.
The two men met privately for 25 minutes in what the Holy See called a "normal meeting between the Pope and a government leader."
“I don’t want to talk about it. It’s difficult with some of these things,” the British leader told the London newspaper afterwards. “Things aren’t always as resolved as they might be."
The meeting comes just days after the British government reported that abortions increased four percent to a record high last year after 40 years of legalized abortion.
The Department of Health reports there were 193,700 abortions in 2006, a 3.9 percent increase over the 186,400 in 2005.
The figures showed that 89 percent of the abortions were done on babies who were under 13 weeks gestation and 68 percent were less than 10 weeks into the pregnancy.
They also revealed that 32 percent of women having an abortion last year had already had a previous abortion. That percentage remains unchanged even though the British government spent more than $50 million promoting contraception.
More teenagers had abortions than the previous year and the abortion rates on teenagers is increasing.
Blair and the Pope were also joined after their discussions by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales
He was accompanied by his wife Cherie, who is a Catholic.