As Queen, Elizabeth served as de facto head of the Anglican Church. Her title “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England,” dates to the reign of King Henry VIII. As such, she appointed archbishops, bishops, and deans of the Church of England and presided over the opening of their General Synods.
She was a vocal proponent of the practice of religion, whether it was Anglican or not. She used her Christmas Day message to call for interfaith harmony. On the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee marking the 60th year of her reign in 2012, she and the duke of Edinburgh attended a multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace hosted by the archbishop of Canterbury.
“Faith plays a key role in the identity of millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but also a sense of belonging. It can act as a spur for social action,” the Queen said.
“Indeed, religious groups have a proud track record of helping those in the greatest need, including the sick, the elderly, the lonely, and the disadvantaged. They remind us of the responsibilities we have beyond ourselves,” she said.
In matters of personal faith, the Queen was said to have been deeply religious. The Washington Post reported that, according to Oxford University theology professor Stan Rosenberg, the Queen had “a deep vibrancy of faith,” and “read Scripture daily, attended church weekly, and regularly prayed.”
Her Christmas radio messages were sometimes deeply personal and revealed a life of prayer and faith.
“I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad,” she said in 2002. “Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God. … I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian Gospel.”
Statement by Bishop Raymond Poisson, Bishop of St-Jérôme-Mont-Laurier and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) receives the news of the passing of Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, with profound sadness. I join my brother Bishops and all of the Catholic faithful of this country in praying for the repose of her soul and in extending sincerest condolences to the members of the Royal Family.
Generations of Canadians have lived under Queen Elizabeth’s long reign. She will be forever remembered for her remarkable service to the people of our country and the entire Commonwealth. We grieve her loss, with all her subjects, and recall in a special way the Church of England, of which she was Supreme Governor.
There is immense inspiration to be found in the life the Queen lived. From the onset of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II vowed to dedicate her life to the service of others. She fulfilled this promise without stint or reservation.
Born on 21 April 1926, Queen Elizabeth II entered this world amid one of the most turbulent periods in history. Having grown up amid the chaos and destruction of the Second World War, as Queen, she guided her subjects in its aftermath and beyond, providing stability and hope.
She visited Canada 22 times. On each occasion, Canadians found in her an example of service, patriotism, respect for humanity, and devotion to God. In 1971, when delivering a speech in Toronto, she remarked: “I want the Crown to be seen as a symbol of national sovereignty belonging to all. It is not only a link between Commonwealth nations, but between Canadian citizens of every national origin and ancestry.”
Queen Elizabeth resonated with Canadians from all walks of life. On this day of great sadness, we do well to reflect on all that is to be learned from the life of Queen Elizabeth II and we pray: Grant her eternal rest, O Lord, and may everlasting light shine upon her.