Catholic leaders in Australia and around the world have responded with sadness to the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral, her residence in Scotland, after a reign of more than 70 years.
As Australians woke this morning to the news, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli said, ‘It is with sadness and deep respect that we mourn the death and honour the life of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
‘Her Majesty drew deeply on her faith at all times, and often referred to the reconciliation, service and love which flows from Christian commitment. A model of grace and dignity for us all.
In these early hours of this news, may our prayers be with her family, for all the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms, and in fact our shared global family who have now lost a reassuring constant in our lives.
‘As a good and faithful servant, may Her Majesty now rest in gentle peace and be received by her King and Lord.’
In a telegram offering his heartfelt condolences to King Charles III for the death of his mother, and commending her ‘noble soul’ to the mercy of God the Father, Pope Francis also expressed his sadness:
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.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, also paid tribute to the late Queen’s unstinting dedication to serving others:
‘On 21 April 1947, on her twenty-first birthday, Princess Elizabeth said, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.” Now, seventy-five years later, we are heartbroken in our loss at her death, and so full of admiration for the unfailing way in which she fulfilled that declaration.
‘Even in my sorrow, shared with so many around the world, I am filled with an immense sense of gratitude for the gift to the world that has been the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
At this time, we pray for the repose of the soul of Her Majesty. We do so with confidence, because the Christian faith marked every day of her life and activity.
In paying tribute to the late Queen, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, acknowledged ‘a long reign marked by extraordinary constancy, fidelity, courage and service’, and singled out the gift of her Christian witness:
‘Queen Elizabeth was never reticent about acknowledging her Christian faith. Her annual Christmas message invariably focused on Jesus Christ as a model of humble and generous service. It was a model she strived to emulate throughout her long life.