By John Bingham, Telegraph
THE outpouring of public grief over the death of Diana Princess of Wales marked the moment England returned to its Roman Catholic roots almost 500 years after the reformation, according to the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Acts such as showering the Princess’s hearse with flowers show that the public is reverting to a “Catholic” approach to death after centuries of protestant reserve, the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols suggested.
He said that the Princess’s funeral in 1997 marked a watershed in British history and would be remembered as the “end of the Reformation in England”.
Catholic practices such as prayers for the souls of the dead and a belief in saints, which were dismissed by protestant reformers in the 16th Century, are now being rediscovered, he said.
The recent growth in unofficial roadside shrines commemorating people killed in accidents – often filled with flowers photographs and mementos – has also been widely interpreted as marking a change in the way the British respond to death.
Interviewed in a BBC documentary about shrines and other places of religious significance in Britain, the Archbishop said that English people were rediscovering their ancient Catholic “voice”.
Read also: Archbishop Vincent Nichols hails 'the end of the Reformation in England' from Cranmer
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