As Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday became Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has offered prayers of thanksgiving for 63 years of “outstanding and unstinting service.”
Here is the cardinal’s message:
It is an honour and a pleasure to express the great loyalty and gratitude felt by the Catholic community of England and Wales for the outstanding and unstinting service you give to our nation and to people throughout the world.
We express these sentiments with particular warmth and admiration as you celebrate the occasion of surpassing the length of reign of any other British Monarch.
Along with Catholics across the world, and especially in the Commonwealth, we join our prayers of thanksgiving to those of other Christians for the many blessings of your reign.
Your vocation as our Queen has been unstinting over these years. The burden of high office fell upon your shoulders at a young age, and yet through the many and varied circumstances of your Reign, you have held integrity of service as a high standard and as an exemplar for other heads of state and leaders of nations. We give thanks too for the constant support that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has shown you in your time as our Queen; his role as Prince Consort being a source of strength and stay.
We thank you too, for your steadfast insistence on the great importance of our Christian faith, given in both word and example, alongside your appreciation of the contribution made by other religions in our rich and diverse society today. Our hope is 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.
The Gospel of Jesus, which we seek to serve, is a challenge to our society to think more deeply about the sanctity of life, the constant need for forgiveness and reconciliation, and the faithfulness required in love and the self-sacrifice which brings true satisfaction
Your Majesty, it is my privilege to assure you of our prayers for you, now and in the future and, most especially, on the day when you become our longest reigning Monarch. All the Catholic communities in England and Wales have been asked to offer special prayers for you and your family on this most special of days.
May Almighty God bless Your Majesty, preserve you in health of mind and body, and grant you every grace and blessing, now and in the years to come.
+ Vincent Cardinal Nichols
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales