Queen Elizabeth II films her traditional Christmas broadcast to the Commonwealth from Buckingham Palace on Dec. 19, 2001 in London, England. | Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
Catholic leaders worldwide mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II — the longest-reigning monarch in British history and the head of the Church of England — after she passed away at the age of 96 on Thursday. They called for prayers while remembering the late queen’s Christian example.
“At this time, we pray for the repose of the soul of Her Majesty,” Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said in a statement. “We do so with confidence because the Christian faith marked every day of her life and activity.”
Nichols went on to cite her Christmas message from 2000.
“To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance,” he quoted her as saying. “For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
Nichols expressed gratitude and admiration for the queen’s service and called her faith an inspiration.
“The wisdom, stability, and service which she consistently embodied, often in circumstances of extreme difficulty, are a shining legacy and testament to her faith,” he said.
He asked for prayers for the queen and her son, the new king — King Charles III.
Bishop Patrick McKinney of Nottingham also expressed admiration for the queen’s faith.
“We also want to pay our respects to the Queen as a woman of faith, as a Christian, whose faith always inspired and shaped the way she lived,” he said in a statement. “We pray that Christ Jesus, whom she faithfully served throughout her whole life, may now welcome her into His Kingdom with these words: ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’”
Bishop Hugh Gilbert, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference in Scotland, where the queen passed away, promised that the bishops there “will remember her in our prayers and pray for all those who mourn her loss.”
“Her determination to remain active to the end of her long life has been an example of Christian leadership, which demonstrated her great stoicism and commitment to duty and was undoubtedly a source of stability and continuity in times of great change,” he said in a statement.
He also emphasized that they would pray for the new king and the royal family.
As head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, one of five popes the queen met during her lifetime, remembered her faith in a telegram.
“I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late Queen’s eternal rest and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the Nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises,” he said.
Throughout the day, other bishops and church leaders around the world continued to remember the queen and ask for prayers.
In the United States, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco tweeted, “May she rest in peace.”
Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin in Ireland wrote, “May she now enjoy the eternal rest she richly deserves for her life of impeccable service.”