The Primate of All-Ireland has paid tribute to Cardinal Desmond Connell, the former Archbishop of Dublin, who died on Tuesday 21st February at the age of 90.
Cardinal Connell had been ill for some time and died peacefully overnight in his sleep, the Dublin Archdiocese said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, expressed his sympathies, revealing that he had only recently prayed for Cardinal Connell at the spring meeting of the Standing Committee of the Bishops’ Conference.
“Although I did not know him personally, I understand he was a gentle and holy priest,” added Archbishop Martin. “His distinguished contributions as an academic, scholar and writer are well documented.
“Cardinal Connell was generous with his God-given gifts during his sixty-six years of ministry, including as Professor of Philosophy in UCD, and subsequently as Archbishop of Dublin,” he explained.
“Although his time as archbishop coincided with one of the most challenging periods in the recent history of the Church in Ireland, he remained dedicated to his priestly and episcopal calling.”
Born in the capital in 1926, Cardinal Connell was appointed Archbishop of Dublin in 1988. A philosopher and strong defender of traditional Catholic values, including on divorce, contraception and abortion, Cardinal Connell’s accomplishments during his 16 years as head of the Archdiocese of Dublin were overshadowed by the Church’s sluggish pace in coming to terms with the scope and devastation of clerical sexual abuse scandals.
During a Holy Thursday Mass, about two weeks before his retirement was announced in 2004, Cardinal Connell asked for forgiveness from those he offended, especially those abused by priests.
“Regarding the failures on his part in addressing the issue of child sexual abuse, he himself asked for forgiveness from those who had been ‘so shamefully harmed’, and said, ‘I express without reservation my bitter regret’,” Archbishop Martin noted.
“I wish to pay tribute to his contribution to the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference between 1988 and 2004 in his role as vice-president; as a member of the Commission for Doctrine, and of the Theology Commission; as chair of the Commission for Universities; as a member of the Commission on Ecumenism; as a member of the Committee for European Affairs and as a member of the Inter-Church Committee.
“At this sad time for Cardinal Connell’s family, and for the Archdiocese of Dublin, I invite the faithful to pray for repose of Cardinal Connell’s soul. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.”
Picture: 2001 file photo of Cardinal Desmond Connell with Minister Seamus Brennan. (Chris Bacon PA Archive/PA Images).