Church, civil leaders in Asia pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

Church leaders and several Asian heads of states have joined the world in mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. 

Queen Elizabeth II was the UK’s longest-serving monarch. She died at the age of 96 on Thursday, Sept. 8, at her Scottish estate, after reigning for 70 years. 

Some Catholic bishops in the Philippines have described the Queen as “a woman of faith” and “champion of religious freedom.” 

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, head of Caritas Philippines, offered his condolences to the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom. 

The prelate said Queen Elizabeth was “a remarkable public figure, a constant source of stability during her 70-year reign, and a Christian who promoted religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue.” 

Bishop Bagaforo said the Queen’s “unwavering faith was exemplified in her commitment to her duty including her support for CAFOD” or the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, a UK-based organization that has provided humanitarian aid to the Philippines.

Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan, head of the Episcopal Office on Women of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said Elizabeth II, who came to the throne in 1952, “had high respect for the belief, faith, and principles of each individual.” 

“She gained high respect and admiration from the many peoples in the world. Her power as a woman was not based on arms and wealth but by her character and values,” said the prelate. 

Bishop Rex Alarcon of Daet, head of the Episcopal Commission on Youth, said how the Queen fulfilled her mission was “a manifestation of her faith in God and love for those entrusted to her care – dutifully, with dignity and devotedness.” 

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said he was saddened by the news that the world has just lost “a great and magnificent leader,” who “made and left the world stronger, more secure and very safe.” 

“Our Filipino migrant workers, especially our medical service workers, are very stable, well respected ,and successful in the UK because of Queen Elizabeth II. She showed her maternal impartiality and religious fairness when she allowed our migrants to practice our Christian faith according to one’s preference and beliefs,” the prelate said. 

Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Taytay said the Queen has been “a feature of the world” for a very long time, adding that she was “in the forefront in promoting religious tolerance for all.”

Several news reports noted that Queen Elizabeth II often spoke of the importance of her faith. In her Christmas speech in 2000, she said the “teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.” 

The Queen was also known for her efforts to understand non-Christian religions and her acceptance of religious diversity.

Leaders in various Asian countries have lauded Queen Elizabeth’s “commitment to duty” and her “personified dignity.” 

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Queen Elizabeth “exemplified to the world a true monarch’s great dignity, commitment to duty, and devotion to all those in her realm.”

“We, together with many Filipinos living and working in England, though not subjects of the Queen, have found ourselves having developed a great sense of affection for her as a Queen, as mother, and as a grandmother,” said Marcos Jr. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Queen will be remembered “as a stalwart of our times,” adding, “She provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Elizabeth “played an extremely important role in the peace and prosperity of the world.”

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said she had a strong belief in the cause of human freedom and left great legacies of dignity. Her kind heart and good deed(s) will remain in our memory.” 

At the moment of the Queen’s death, the throne was passed immediately and without ceremony to her heir, Charles, the former Prince of Wales. 

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