Blairs attend Catholic Mass at JFK's old church

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The Independent US

Tony and Cherie Blair took a brief retreat from their Miami Beach holiday to take the family to a New Year's Eve Mass.

While newspapers have been filled with pictures of the Blairs at the Bee Gee Robin Gibb's mansion, and speculation about their star-studded New Year party plans, the Blairs were seen seeking the peace of Sunday Mass at a church attended by former US president John F Kennedy.

Members of the congregation at St Edward's Roman Catholic Church in Palm Beach were amazed when the Blairs and their children slipped in and took their seats for the noon Sunday service.

Mr and Mrs Blair, who is a Roman Catholic, joined in prayers for former US president Gerald Ford, who died last week, and swapped a wry smile as the congregation were asked to pray for parents of teenage children.

Onlookers said the Prime Minister looked relaxed and casual dressed in a light shirt and trousers, in contrast with many of the jacket-wearing men of the well-heeled congregation.

Mr Blair chatted with worshippers and signed autographs outside the Spanish colonial-style building before leaving in a fleet of 4x4s parked outside.

One member of the congregation said: "Two minutes before noon the side door to the church opened and there is the Prime Minister, Cherie and the kids all coming to sit in the pews with their secret service agents."

Mr Blair is reluctant to discuss his religious beliefs. Alastair Campbell, the former Downing Street communications chief famously told one interviewer: "We don't do God."