Cardinal Daly seriously ill with heart problems
CARDINAL Cahal Daly, the former Catholic Primate of All Ireland, was seriously ill last night in a Belfast hospital.
The 92-year-old retired cardinal was being treated for heart problems in the intensive care unit of Belfast City Hospital.
He was earlier taken from his home in south Belfast after suffering chest pains.
Cardinal Daly, originally from Loughguile, Co Antrim, was admitted to hospital yesterday morning to the coronary care unit.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland said their "thoughts and prayers" were with the cardinal and his family and friends.
It is understood he had been suffering from ill-health for some time.
Yesterday Cardinal Sean Brady visited his colleague in hospital but no statement was issued afterwards.
Ireland's third and oldest 'Prince of the Church', he was made a cardinal in 1991 by the late Pope John Paul II but was ineligible on grounds of age to vote in the 2005 conclave which was attended by Cardinal Desmond Connell who helped elect Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI.
In November 2007, Dr Daly was present at the conferring in Rome of the red hat by Pope Benedict on his successor, Dr Brady.
He retired on his birthday in October 1996 at the age of 79 and returned to his twin scholarly studies of philosophy and theology. As Archbishop of Armagh, from 1990 until his retirement, he was the leader of the Irish Catholic Church when the clerical child abuse scandals erupted with paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.
In 1995 he was involved in a public row with the then-Bishop of Ferns, Brendan Comiskey, who had called for a debate on obligatory celibacy of priests.
Cardinal Daly was the only Irish bishop to attend the Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965, where he was a theological adviser.
In 1967 his appointment as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise marked him out as Ireland's first Vatican II bishop, and he wrote most of the pastoral letters for the Irish Episcopal Conference.
These ranged from ecumenism and church architecture to staunch opposition of 'the liberal agenda' on contraception, divorce, abortion and euthanasia.
As Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, he was based in Longford where he oversaw the modernisation of St Mel's Cathedral which was badly damaged in a blaze on Christmas Day.
A stern critic of the Provisional IRA's armed struggle and of loyalist paramilitarism, Cardinal Daly is credited with writing Pope John Paul II's appeal for an end to violence while in Drogheda during his 1979 visit.
Although he had suffered a major heart attack in Longford, he was later promoted to Belfast as Bishop of Down and Connor, and to Armagh in 1990 after the sudden death in Lourdes of Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich.
Along with then-Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Robin Eames, Cardinal Daly was to the fore in breaking down denominational barriers between the two communities they represented at a time of intense and bitter sectarianism.
With Archbishop Eames and other Protestant church leaders, Cardinal Daly travelled to the US to inform Irish-Americans about the situation in Northern Ireland and insist that both sides wanted permanent peace.
Declan O Loan, SDLP MLA for North Antrim, said Dr Daly was regarded with "great respect". "It is very sad to hear he is so ill at this time," he said.