As messages of condolence and remembrance on the death of Queen Elizabeth II continue to flood in from around the world, the Vatican News Service interviews Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, drew attention to the Queen’s personal faith – an aspect of her life that is sometimes overlooked.
The rock and strength of her life
“Not too many of [those messages] make reference to the fact that the Queen herself said that the rock and strength of her life was her Christian faith,” the Cardinal said in an interview with Vatican News. He noted that the Queen had said, “The teachings of Christ and my own accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.”
Cardinal Nichols said, “if we so deeply appreciate the qualities that the Queen brought, qualities of wisdom, stability, openness, immense approachability, then we have to also remember their source and their inspiration.
“And I hope that as these days go by and as we reflect a little more deeply, the importance of that Christian faith that shaped her every single day will become clearer and clearer.”
Relationship with the Catholic Church
The Cardinal Archbishop also noted the many changes that occurred in the more than 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, pointing especially to improved ecumenical relations and the changing relationship between civil authorities and the Catholic Church.
“I think it’s a maybe less widely understood, but Cardinal [Basil] Hume was the first Cardinal of Westminster diocese to receive a letter from Buckingham Palace which acknowledged his ecclesiastical title, which acknowledged him as Archbishop of Westminster,” Cardinal Nichols said.
He noted as well that is was only within the last few decades that civil law recognized the role of Catholic bishops in the administration of the affairs of their dioceses. “So in that sense,” he said, “but at a common level and at a structural, establishment level, [the Queen] has lived through and led remarkable changes.”
A witness to Christian faith
As people begin to grasp more deeply “the importance of the stability and openness” that the Queen personified, how we react to ongoing change “is probably the most important thing,” Cardinal Nichols said.
He said he believes King Charles III will seek “to continue to give strong witness to the importance of Christian faith.” In particular, the Cardinal noted that the new King is “a great champion of interfaith dialogue” and “a great champion of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.”
Cardinal Nichols added, “I think [King Charles] will have his own way of continuing this tradition of his mother, of being firmly and clearly of the Christian faith in a way that reflects… the renewal that we seek in our relationships and our service of society.”
With regard to the Catholic Church in the country, the Cardinal Archbishop said, “I think that the situation of the Church in this country is not weakened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.”
And, he added, “I think these are moments in which Christians will come together to pray and in which people of other faiths will find common standing with us in this recognition of the importance of faith in God as giving us the horizon, the foundations, and the guidance by which to live through changing times.”
Affection and prayers of Catholics for the King
Concluding the interview, Cardinal Nichols thanked Pope Francis for his “gracious message to our new Sovereign,” and assured the new King “of the regard and affection and prayer of the Catholics of this country and of many, many other people too.”
English and Welsh Bishops’ prayer for late Queen
The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have released the following prayer which will be distributed to all Catholic parishes across the country.
For the happy repose of HM The Queen
You are the author and sustainer of all human life;
grant that your servant, Elizabeth our Queen,
whom you granted a long and happy reign as Monarch of these lands
may be forgiven her sins and rewarded with that eternal life
promised to all those born again
in the water of baptism and power of your Spirit.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit God, forever and ever,
Eternal rest, grant to her O Lord,
And let Perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed,
Through the mercy of God, rest in peace.