MANCHESTER, England (CNS): Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster has become the first Catholic leader since the Reformation to be invited by a British monarch to preach.
The cardinal preached during matins, or morning prayer, at the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene on Queen Elizabeth II’s country estate at Sandringham, Norfolk, on January 13. He said his presence was evidence of the Holy Spirit impelling the Christian Churches towards unity.
The Queen was present with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and her son and daughter-in-law, the Earl and Countess of Wessex. The cardinal was a guest of the Queen for the weekend at the estate.
Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s office described the invitation as an “unprecedented gesture of good will” by the monarch. It came just days before the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor spoke on the Gospel account of the marriage feast at Cana. The account, he said, showed insights into Mary that were fundamental in Christian life.
“I feel today in preaching in this church and under these circumstances that this is not just an isolated event,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said. Ecumenism, he said, was a long road, but a very fruitful one.