England

Funeral for Bishop of East Anglia Michael Evans

About 2,000 people attended a funeral service in Norwich on Wednesday to mark the life of the Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia.

Bishop Michael Evans, 59, died last week after a long battle with cancer.

The service at St John the Baptist Cathedral was led by Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nicholls before one of the largest gatherings seen there.

Bishop Michael made close contacts with Catholics in Palestine and Cambodia and priests from both attended.

Bishop Michael was appointed in 2003 by Pope John Paul ll.

Image caption Bishop Michael Evans was appointed to the Diocese of East Anglia in 2003

He was diagnosed with cancer two years later.

Other people attending the Requiem Mass included the Papal representative to the UK Archbishop Antonio Mennini and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor.

The Anglican Bishop of Norwich Graham James paid tribute to the bishop and said he had lost "a true friend as well as a friend in Christ".

Two personal messages were sent from the Vatican, one from Pope Benedict XVl paying tribute to Bishop Michael's work in East Anglia and another from a joint commission that builds contacts between Catholics and other faiths.

About 30 bishops, 120 priests, 20 deacons and 200 local school children were part of the large congregation that included Catholics from across the country.

Seminary lecturer

The bishop's 96-year-old mother Jeanette Evans also attended.

Monsignor Tony Roger, vicar-general who takes over the duties of bishop until a new one is appointed, gave a homily and said Bishop Michael had expressly forbidden a eulogy.

He described the bishop as a man who never ducked the difficult issues especially in preaching the gospel in today's world.

At a service to mark the reception of the bishop's body at the cathedral on Tuesday night, the Dean, Fr James Walsh, said Bishop Michael accepted the job of bishop "reluctantly" as he was happy as a simple parish priest.

"But he brought that humility to the job," said Fr Walsh.

"People who met him were deeply impressed by his simplicity. He did not come over as a prelate but as a priest who also happened to be a bishop.

"In his career he had been a seminary lecturer and a chaplain to a university but felt most fulfilled in the parish of St Augustine in Tunbridge Wells.

"He was committed to developing the Catholic Church in the 21st Century and made many contacts with other faiths."

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