Tony Blair will today spell out why he believes faith and young people can solve the problems of the world and will call on religious leaders to work together to “awaken the world’s conscience. In his first major speech in the UK since leaving Downing Street last year, the former Prime Minister will address the whole area of faith in a global context, a subject about which he is passionate. Mr Blair is expected to be greeted by anti-Iraq war protesters when he speaks this evening at Westminster Cathedral, the UK’s Roman Catholic flagship and Mr Blair’s spiritual home for his time in London as Prime Minister. The cathedral has attained even more significance since his conversion to Roman Catholicism shortly before Christmas last year. Mr Blair, a Middle East peace envoy, will use the speech to flag up the work of his new Tony Blair Faith Foundation which he will launch officially next month. He has high earning capacity as a popular and charismatic speaker. Earlier this year he earned $300,000 for a speech to the banking giant Goldman Sachs in Florida, and last year he earned _240,000 in Dongguan, southern China. Ruth Gledhill reports.
According to the Vatican, Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the single biggest religious denomination in the world. Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who compiled the Vatican`s 2008 statistics, claims that Muslims make up 19.2 percent of the world population and Catholics 17.4 percent. Referring to 2006, Formenti told Vatican newspaper L`Osservatore Romano, “For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us.“ Formenti explained that while the percentage of Catholics was fairly stable worldwide, that the percentage of Muslims has grown with higher birth rates. The data on Muslim populations was compiled by individual countries and reported by the United Nations while the Vatican vouches for its own statistics.