During an address to the World Economic Forum, Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked a question by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, that included the following question:
And would you not agree, as a very significant political figure in the United States, Colin, that America, at the present time, is in danger of relying too much upon the hard power and not enough upon building the trust from which the soft values, which of course all of our family life that actually at the bottom, when the bottom line is reached, is what makes human life valuable?
Powell delivered the following response with a very poignant point near the end:
The United States believes strongly in what you call soft power, the value of democracy, the value of the free economic system, the value of making sure that each citizen is free and free to pursue their own God-given ambitions and to use the talents that they were given by God. And that is what we say to the rest of the world. That is why we participated in establishing a community of democracy within the Western Hemisphere. It’s why we participate in all of these great international organizations.
There is nothing in American experience or in American political life or in our culture that suggests we want to use hard power. But what we have found over the decades is that unless you do have hard power—and here I think you’re referring to military power—then sometimes you are faced with situations that you can’t deal with.
I mean, it was not soft power that freed Europe. It was hard power. And what followed immediately after hard power? Did the United States ask for dominion over a single nation in Europe? No. Soft power came in the Marshall Plan. Soft power came with American GIs who put their weapons down once the war was over and helped all those nations rebuild. We did the same thing in Japan.
So our record of living our values and letting our values be an inspiration to others I think is clear. And I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of or apologize for with respect to what America has done for the world.
We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we itself (of course!), so he thinks it qualifies. I hardly think so, since it’s no great hardship to cross town to attend the Anglican church. I think it would violate the spirit and intent of the law.
But the question remains: whether or not he could, did Blair actually receive Communion? For one thing, Allen says he talked to the Roman liturgist credited with breaking the story and he denies any knowledge of the incident. A friend of his also talked to a group of seminarians who were at the Mass. One said that he saw Blair enter the Communion line with his arms crossed in the sign that he wanted a blessing but not the Eucharist, but the priest (not the Pope) gave it to him anyway. However, the other seminarians said they did not see that. And yet another source who claims to have been “fully briefed” is adamant that Blair didn’t receive Communion.
Where does that leave us? We still don’t know whether Blair received Communion or not, but if he did it was probably a matter of a misunderstanding rather than a theological statement on relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church by the Pope. In other words, it’s a tempest in a teapot that everyone would be better off letting go.