In honor of Queen Elizabeth’s 94th birthday, the British Ambassador to the Vatican Sally Axworthy held a virtual tea party attended by roughly 120 people from different parts of the world. This includes her other fellow Ambassadors to the Holy See.
Role of the Church
After introducing everyone, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office greeted the participants in a pre-recorded video. He said that the Catholic Church has played a very important role throughout the world, especially in developing countries. He said that while many members of the Church have sacrificed their lives in the front lines, this has resulted in many more lives saved. (Read: Pope Francis recognizes the significant efforts of women in the COVID-19 crisis)
He further said that the UK government is a partner of the Catholic Church in a number of issues such as battling human trafficking, modern slavery, freedom of religion, and sexual violence among them. “COVID-19 has taught us that all people are interdependent, regardless of religious persuasion,” Lord Ahmad said.
Thank you to everyone who marked Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday with us at an event to pay tribute to the work of the Catholic Church and other faiths in tackling #COVID19. We were joined virtually by @tariqahmadbt and in person by. Abp Gallagher, Sr Jolanta Kafka and Fr Sosa. pic.twitter.com/atXMmvN7cW— Sally Axworthy (@SallyAxworthy) June 16, 2020
Meanwhile, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) President Sr Jolanta Kafka said that there is a “holy disquietude shaking us. But we are sure of the presence of God’s spirit always moving us toward transformation.” She mentioned that the UISG has been focusing on efforts on mutual support and helping member communities to reflect on what is happening and how to move forward.
Jesuit Superior General, Father Arturo Sosa, meanwhile noted the ways that the Church is contributing to combat the pandemic. One of which is the recognition of the gravity of the situation. He added that the Church is one with the “struggle to change world structures perpetuating cycles of injustice.”
Ambassador Axworthy, on the other hand, mentioned the ways that the British Government is doing to alleviate the virus—being the highest contributor and host of the Global Vaccine Summit and the development of a vaccine that has already started clinical trials. “When a vaccine comes, it should be available to everyone,” she said. (Read: Pope Francis: ‘COVID-19 vaccine should be shared to the world when discovered’)
Queen Elizabeth as an Inspiration
Lastly, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher said that Queen Elizabeth has been a source of “encouragement and inspiration”.
“In the present crisis, she has offered words of resolve and comfort. Her empathy with the sufferings of so many is and always has been heartfelt,” the Archbishop said.
The Archbishop further said that the world has been shaken from what it takes for granted. “False securities are falling away in the earthquake of these times,” he continued. But the Church is here to serve just as Jesus did, he said.
Pope Francis’ image of the Catholic Church as a field hospital is appropriate for how the Church has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic—he Pope has established a COVID-19 Commission to launch a common dialogue to support local initiatives.