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Cardinal's historic homily to the Queen

Cardinal Murphy-OęConnor's historic visit to Queen Elizabeth II on the weekend is a sign that anti-Catholic prejudices in England are "anachronistic," Vatican Radio said today.

The archbishop of Westminster, primate of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, delivered a homily in the sovereign's country residence during the Anglican morning service on Sunday.

There were some 200 Catholics and Protestants present, in addition to the Queen and her family. It was the first time since the Reformation that a Catholic bishop was invited by an English monarch to deliver a sermon.

On the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins next Friday, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said that the royal invitation was a sign of progress on the way toward unity between the two Christian communities.

The cardinal commented on the passage in St. John's Gospel that refers to Christ's first miracle, the transformation of water into wine, at the Wedding of Cana, and he emphasized the meaning of Mary's invitation to the servants to do whatever Christ told them.

"Important transformations in the relation between the Catholic and Anglican Churches and, more generally in society, have made this historic visit possible," Vatican Radio acknowledged.

Queen Elizabeth received John Paul II at Buckingham Palace in 1982. In 1995, she was the first British monarch since Henry VIII to participate in a Catholic liturgy.

According to Vatican Radio, "the last decades have revealed the growth of the role of the Catholic minority in British life. Leaders of the Conservative and Liberal-Democratic parties are Catholics, as is Tony Blairęs wife."

"Today the old prejudice that considered Catholics as subjects of a foreign sovereign, the Pope, is seen as anachronistic," Vatican Radio said.


Telegraph Group report