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FEATURE: For Queen’s Birthday, British Ambassador to Holy See Hosts Virtual Afternoon Tea to Honor Church’s Contribution to Tackling Covid-19

Ambassador Axworthy Held Intimate Tea Party, With Remarks from Vatican Foreign Minister, in Lieu of Annual Gathering

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To celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 94th birthday this year, British Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy, hosted a virtual afternoon tea to honor the Church’s contribution to tackling Covid-19 worldwide.

The June 16 tea was held in lieu of an annual private gathering in Rome, to celebrate and toast Her Majesty’s birthday.

ZENIT’s Senior Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Lubov, was ready with her Zoom login and chamomile. Those joining the tea party were primarily foreign ambassadors to the Holy See, Vatican officials, diplomats, religious superiors, and a couple of journalists.

The British Ambassador welcomed the invitees joining virtually. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, was a guest of honor and spoke of the Queen’s dedication to service and working toward the common good.

The Vatican Foreign Minister and British Ambassador highlighted various ways the Church and British Commonwealth have and do work together. Pope Francis cordially welcomed Queen Elizabeth to the Vatican in 2014, and Her Majesty has met five Popes in history.

Through his response and extraordinary Urbi et Orbi that rainy Friday night, “Pope Francis gave us hope in the dark days when the virus first struck,” Ambassador Axworthy said.

Archbishop Gallagher also reflected on the Pope’s commitment to tackling this pandemic and its consequences, especially through instituting the COVID 19 Commission. He stressed how false securities seemed to fall away at this tragic time, and helped one rediscover what’s really important in life. He also stressed how the Pope in various ways is trying to ‘roll out his field hospital’ to all those in need.

Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, President, Union of Superiors General (USG), spoke and praised the new types of pastoral attention priests have learned and lived even during lockdown.

There were also brief contributions from invited guests on the role the Church has played in tackling Covid-19, including Marta Petrosillo from Caritas Internationalis, who lamented that while it has not been feasible to help everyone who has requested it due to limited funds, that Caritas has still assisted nearly 9 million people. The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, also underscored the importance of religions working together at times of crisis.

One religious sister reflected on how in Congo, it was beautiful to see all the different religions, naming specifically Catholics, Muslims, and Orthodox, work together to combat COVID19 contagion.

Ambassador Axworthy concluded the birthday event quoting St. John Henry Newman’s poem ‘Lead Kindly Light’ and with the UK and Holy See National Anthems being sung by the BE Choir and the Pontifical Beda College choir.

The Hashtag for the event was: #Tea2ThankU

Long live the Queen…

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio, Sky, and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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