Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Saturday, 2 January 2010

Cardinal dies: Newspaper reaction

Cardinal Cahal Daly

A round-up of the newspapers' reaction to the death of Cardinal Cahal Daly, who died aged 92 on New Year's Eve.


"Cardinal Cahal Daly was an inspirational figure who made a massive contribution not only to the Catholic Church but to Irish society in general throughout his adult life.

"He was always a strong campaigner for Christian unity, but he will probably be best remembered as a courageous and outspoken opponent of all forms of violence.

"His condemnations of sectarianism were precise and effective, and his moral authority and personal sincerity shone through in all his public pronouncements.

"By any standards, the Cardinal was a central influence in the struggle for peace and justice in Ireland over the last four decades."


"In his 1972 New Year's Day address, he urged a more balanced reading of history, allowing greater justice to the contribution to Irish freedom and democracy of peaceful, constitutional movements.

"In May that year, he emphasised the impossibility of coercing nearly a million Northern Ireland unionists into a united Ireland. In August, he said British and world opinion was sickened by the ruthlessness and intransigence of the IRA's campaign.

"Such forthright denunciations were to make him something of a hate figure among republicans over the next quarter of a century.

"He may once have been the country's most recognised churchman, but few knew the private man at all, even colleagues.

"His idea of relaxation was a serious intellectual conversation or to settle down with a book of philosophy, poetry or a novel by Dostoyevsky or John McGahern."


"Cahal Daly's big promotion to Armagh came at the age of 73, and he was made a Cardinal shortly afterwards.

"Arguably, however, his elevation had come too late for him to make the vigorous impact on the Irish Church he was eminently capable of.

"Indeed, the argument can be made that his last years in office fitted Enoch Powell's dictum that all careers end in failure. By training and outlook he proved himself unsuited to the imperative of dealing with the crimes of paedophile priests.

"In many respects he was a transition prelate, caught between the old authoritarianism of the McQuaid era and the painful move towards a more accountable Church under Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin."


"He had considerable political skill, an unswerving commitment to ecumenism and a determined opposition to the republican "armed struggle".

"The tributes paid to him have underlined how highly he was regarded. The warmth of the remarks by Protestant leaders are a particular witness of his outreach towards that community and on occasions he had a higher appreciation of the virtues of their cultures than some of the Protestants themselves.

"Towards the end of his public life, he was becoming caught up in the Church's clerical child abuse scandals and he appeared ill-at-ease in dealing with the revelations which grieved him deeply.

"He will be remembered, however, as a courageous peacemaker and an ecumenist who gained the deep respect and affection not only of his own people, but of many in the Protestant community.

"He was a truly a historic figure."


"The former Roman Catholic Primate, Cardinal Cahal Daly, was a man of immense intellect and integrity.

"His death has brought sincere words of sympathy from Protestant church leaders which reflect the esteem in which he was held right across the province.

"Cardinal Daly, probably thanks to his County Antrim roots, had an understanding of the Protestant community and worked ceaselessly for a better relationship between Protestants and Catholics.

"He was consistent in his strong criticism of IRA violence and never shirked away from condemning acts of terror.

"Cardinal Daly will be remembered as a leader who contributed significantly to the life of Northern Ireland."


"He was an enigmatic figure in Irish public life. Neither as a churchman nor as a Northern Irish Catholic did he fit any stereotype.

"He was socially progressive but theologically conservative, intellectually ecumenical but convinced that the official stance of his church on moral issues was alone coterminous with the common good."


"It has been said that no Catholic bishop did more to bring different denominations closer together in Northern Ireland than Cardinal Cahal Daly.

"Yet he did more than move forward in ecumenism. He faced many years of defiance and opposition to his dogged affirmation that terrorist violence was morally wrong.

"For Bishop Daly, violence wasn't merely counter-productive: it was directly against the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"In consequence it became commonplace for republican-minded Catholics in west Belfast to walk out of Mass when he appeared at the altar as their bishop.

"But eventually Daly's message bore fruit, and he undoubtedly played a meaningful role in undermining support for the "physical force" tradition within Sinn Fein and in helping to bring forward the movement for peace and reconciliation."


"His intimate knowledge of Northern Ireland's affairs, his understanding of unionist attitudes, and his recognition of a groundswell of support for peace within the Sinn Fein movement was to make him a highly influential figure in the whole peace process.

"He had always been a moderate nationalist but preferred (in his words) to emphasise the "the universality of the Church rather than a narrow nationalistic understanding."

Print Sponsor

Tributes paid to Cardinal Daly
02 Jan 10 |  Northern Ireland
Cardinal had 'gift of intellect'
31 Dec 09 |  Northern Ireland

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