PM 'attends Catholic Mass at No 10'

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Tony Blair has been attending private Roman Catholic Mass with Father Michael Seed, prompting speculation that he plans to become a Catholic when he leaves office.

Father Michael, who is well known for converting establishment figures to Catholicism, was reported in The Sunday Times to have held services for the Blair family at Downing Street and at Chequers, the Prime Minister's country residence.

Father Michael Seed helped convert the Conservative MP John Gummer to Catholicism and is a popular figure among London's Catholic aristocracy.

He is said to wear his vestments over the dark brown habit of a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement and to place a chalice and a paten for the bread on a table covered by a white cloth in the Blairs' sitting room.

Cherie Blair is a practising Catholic and the Prime Minster has attended Westminster Cathedral and other Catholic churches with his wife and four children, who are all Catholics.

However, as an Anglican, he is not believed to have taken Communion.

The Blairs have been attending Mass at Downing Street and Chequers since 2003, after concerns about security - following the invasion of Iraq - prevented them attending Mass in church.

The family used to worship at the Catholic Church near Chequers, in the nearby village of Great Missenden. The parish priest, Father Timothy Russ, who was an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, also visited Chequers with a Royal Air Force Chaplain and a Dominican from Oxford.

Cherie Blair is the first Catholic spouse at Downing Street. She is expected to meet the Pope when she speaks at a conference in the Vatican in May.

There has been speculation that Tony Blair may convert to Catholicism in the past, which he has denied.

But the Prime Minister is well known for his strong Christian faith and recently said in an interview that he would be judged by God over his decision to support the American invasion of Iraq.

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