(Vatican Radio) The Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has marked an important milestone for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, who, on Wednesday, became the nation’s longest reigning monarch. Meanwhile, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, joined many other political and religious leaders in paying tribute to the monarch as she surpassed the record set by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, of 63 years and 216 days on the throne.
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The Vatican newspaper published an article by Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, describing the 89-year-old monarch as a “figure of continuity” for the country over the past six decades. The article, entitled ‘Business as usual’, notes the queen did not want any lavish celebrations to mark this historic milestone, though crowds of cheering well-wishers turned out in Scotland as she formally opened a new railway line and, in London, a flotilla of vessels took part in a procession along the River Thames.
The L’Osservatore Romano article notes that the sovereign also serves as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, saying that “her Christian faith has underpinned her life, her service and her reign”. During that time she has met with five different popes and witnessed “extraordinary progress in ecumenical relations”, the paper says, “in a way that was inconceivable” when she came to the throne in February 1952. The article also quotes Queen Elizabeth’s own words about the role of the Church of England, stressing it “has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths” in the United Kingdom.
To mark the occasion, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales joined other religious leaders offering prayers of thanksgiving for 63 years of "outstanding and unstinting service".
Expressing the loyalty and gratitude of Catholics in the UK and across the Commonwealth, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said he hoped that “enriched by the presence of many beliefs and cultures, our country will always maintain respect for our Christian heritage and the sure foundations that it provides for a flourishing of true human fulfilment."
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