Irish cardinal for royal wedding

Ireland's leading Catholic prelate, Cardinal Seán Brady, is to attend the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in London's Westminster Abbey this Friday.

The invitation to the event, and its acceptance, have been described as "unprecedented" by a spokesman for Ireland's Catholic bishops. The spokesman attributed the invitation to Cardinal Brady's contribution to the peace process, the Irish Times reported.

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"He was the first [Catholic primate] to attend a Church of Ireland general synod and to attend the installation of a Presbyterian moderator. He was the first to meet members of the Orange Order as well as loyalist paramilitaries, and he was the first to meet the Rev Ian Paisley," said the spokesman.

The cardinal had also encouraged Catholics to join the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the spokesman said.

Brady presided at the funeral of Catholic PSNI constable Ronan Kerr, who was murdered in Omagh on April 2.

Brady has welcomed the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the Republic. He has described it as "an important religious and civic event" and "a mark of the mutual respect that exists between our two countries."

The visit, he said, also demonstrated the "bonds of friendship" between the Church of Ireland and Catholic Church in Ireland. The Church of Ireland primate, Archbishop Alan Harper, will also attend Friday's wedding.