Irish cardinal to attend royal wedding

ARMAGH, Northern Ireland -- Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh will attend the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton in what a church spokesman has described as an unprecedented move.

While it is customary for British Catholic prelates to attend royal ceremonies, Cardinal Brady is the first senior Irish churchman to attend a British royal function.

Edinburgh Cardinal Keith O'Brien will represent Scottish Catholics while Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster will represent Catholics from England and Wales.

An Irish church spokesman attributed the invitation to Cardinal Brady's contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. His Armagh Archdiocese straddles the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic and is seen as a symbol of reconciliation on the divided island.

Prince William, Queen Elizabeth II's eldest grandson, will marry Middleton in London's Westminster Abbey April 29. Middleton, who is not of noble birth, will be ennobled on the day of the wedding and is expected to be named a duchess as well as receiving the honorary title of princess.

In March, Cardinal Brady welcomed Queen Elizabeth's May 17-20 visit to the Irish Republic. He described it as "an important religious and civic event" and "a mark of the mutual respect that exists between our two countries." It demonstrated the "bonds of friendship" between the Anglican Church and Catholic Church in Ireland, he said.

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