A cardinal said on Monday that he was grateful to be honored by Queen Elizabeth II in the British monarch’s annual New Year’s list.

Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, a former president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, was made an OBE — or Officer of the Order of the British Empire — by the queen on Dec. 31 for “for services to Interfaith and Interchurch Partnership.”

“I am appreciative and grateful for this award, particularly considering that my ‘service to interfaith relations’ has taken place mainly outside the U.K.,” he told CNA on Jan. 3.

The retired 84-year-old cardinal, who lives in Liverpool, England, has dedicated his life to strengthening relations between Christians and Muslims.

He is a member of the society of apostolic life known colloquially as the White Fathers, founded in 1868 by the French Cardinal Charles Lavigerie to evangelize Africa.

… Another Catholic recognized by the queen on Dec. 31 was Tony Blair, the British prime minister from from 1997 to 2007. Blair, who was received into the Church after he left office, was appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the most senior order of knighthood.

Fitzgerald is not the first English cardinal to be honored by the queen. In June 1999, she appointed Cardinal Basil Hume to the prestigious Order of Merit, which is limited to 24 living holders. Hume, the then archbishop of Westminster, died shortly afterward.

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