Friday, April 29, 2011

For the Happy Couple

Not to distract from the weekend's Big Story -- at least, on this beat -- but as even more of the wider world's attention today is focused not on Rome, but London for this morning's wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it's worth noting that (in an unprecedented move), the Catholic bishops of England and Wales released a prayer for the royal nuptials, its text here:
Heavenly Father,
we ask your blessing
upon his Royal Highness, Prince William and Catherine
as they pledge their love for each other in marriage.

May your love unite them through their lives.

Grant them the strength to serve you, our country and the Commonwealth
with integrity and faithfulness.

Through Christ our Lord.

As ecclesial notes go on the service, one significant thread is that for the first time, the UK's top tier of Catholic hierarchs will be in attendance, as Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, his predecessor Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Cardinal Keith O'Brien of St Andrews and Edinburgh and the primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Séan Brady of Armagh have all been invited to the Westminster Abbey rites.

(With the archbishopric of Cardiff vacant until last week's appointment to it of the Westminster auxiliary George Stack, 65, the Vatican move likely came too late for Wales' top Catholic cleric to get a seat.)

On a related note, after a long, difficult road through the three centuries following the Reformation, what was arguably the church's signal moment of public reemergence into the mainstream of British life came at a prior royal wedding, as Murphy-O'Connor's predecessor at Westminster, the iconic Benedictine Cardinal Basil Hume, was invited to offer a prayer at the 1981 marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

This time, however, the lead prelates won't have speaking parts, simply looking on from inside the quire.

PHOTO: Getty