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Nepal's late king 'a great friend of Catholics'

The president of the Christian Workers Movement of Nepal expressed his grief over the shooting deaths of King Birendra and most members of the royal family last Friday, alluding to significant links between the king and the Catholic Church.

"Please pray for peace in our country," Josh Niraual told Zenit. "The late King Birendra was a great friend of Catholics."

"He began his studies at St. Joseph's School, Darjeeling, India, run by the Jesuits," Niraual said. "So did the queen at St. Helen's Convent, Kurseong, India. Both paid a visit to the Holy Father at the Vatican in the 1980s."

"We, the members of the Catholic Church, are in deep sorrow," he added. "Please request the Holy Father to say prayers for the repose of their souls and also for peace in the nation."

On Saturday, as soon as he heard the news of the deaths, John Paul II sent a telegram to Gyanendra, the regent and brother of the deceased king, to express his sorrow over the "tragic deaths" and to assure him of his prayers for Nepal.