Blair Adviser Insists Departure is Not Over Gay Comments

LONDON – An adviser for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation says his departure from the organization has nothing to do with liberal comments on homosexuality made by the former prime minister.

Tony Blair, a convert to Catholicism, said in an April interview with gay magazine Attitude that religious leaders must "rethink" their values.

Asked about a comment the Pope had made while still a cardinal in which he described homosexuality as an "objective disorder," Blair said there was a "huge generational difference" between young and old Catholics and that the average Catholic congregation was surprisingly liberal-minded.

William Chapman, a policy adviser at the Tony Blair Foundation, rejected as "simply untrue" reports that Blair's recent comments had caused a rift in the organisation and prompted his departure.

Mr Chapman, the newly appointed private secretary to the London Mayor, insisted that the recruitment process to find his replacement had already begun more than two months ago, several weeks before Blair's comments on homosexuality.

"My reason for moving on is exactly as I said when my new appointment was announced: working at the heart of the City and leading the Lord Mayor's team in these challenging times is a once in a lifetime opportunity which I did not feel I could pass up," he said.

"It has been a great privilege to be involved in establishing the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and all that it has achieved in such a short period of time," he added.

Chapman will remain at the foundation for the next two months until he takes up his new post in July.