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British Archbishop challenges Blair's record on family
    Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of Catholics in England and Wales, yesterday expected implicitly criticised Tony Blair for failing to put marriage and the family at the heart of Government policy.
    The Archbishop demanded that support for the institution of marriage as the basis of family life be stated explicitly in a forthcoming White Paper on the family.
    Archbishop Murphy-O'Connor was speaking as Catholic bishops work on guidance for Catholics in the run-up to the general election. The bishops are planning to update The Common Good, the controversial manifesto-style document issued before the last general election.
    A Church spokesman denied that the statements on marriage were made with any intended pre-election Catholic "manifesto" in mind. However, speaking yesterday on the Sunday program on commercial television, the Archbishop made clear that he would not pull any punches on issues the Church wants addressed.
    "If you support ... the family, particularly marriage because marriage is at the heart of family life any social policy in this country should have one question in mind: how does this social policy affect marriage and family life?"
    Asked what his message to ministers preparing the White Paper was, the Archbishop replied: "Don't be afraid, put marriage and family life at its very heart, and it then will be supported by the vast majority of people in this country."
    The Times suggested yesterday that the new Archbishop was already shaping up to be a controversialist like his outspoken counterpart in Scotland, Cardinal Thomas Winning.