Thursday 14 December 2017

Cardinal Desmond Connell dies aged 90

: Cardinal Desmond Connell. Photo: Ronan Lang
: Cardinal Desmond Connell. Photo: Ronan Lang

Former Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell has passed away aged 90.

He was Archbishop of Dublin from to 1988 until 2004 and Cardinal since 2001.         

Dr Connell had been ill for some time and passed away peacefully during the night in his sleep.

His funeral arrangements are expected to be announced later.

Cardinal Desmond Connell was a controversial figure throughout his career, often making headlines for his comments on the matters of the day.

Often criticised for his handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal, in 2009 he issued a full apology in the Pro Cathedral. 

At a mass to commemorate the 24th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's papacy, he said, he "did not effectively deal with it. I failed."

"I want to say as clearly as I can, with sexual abuse we are face to face with evil and incalculable harm has been caused,” he said.

The scale and extent of abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese and the movement of known and suspected paedophiles throughout the area was something his tenure never recovered from.

A graduate of both UCD and Maynooth, he was considered a surprise appointment as Archbishop of Dublin in 1998. He was widely considered academically talented but somewhat ineffective as an administrator.

He was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 2001, making him the first Irish cardinal who was not an archbishop of Armagh, since 1866.

Upon his retirement in 2004, the Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Seán Brady of Armagh, said Cardinal Connell's "clear vision, courageous honesty and outstanding integrity" would be greatly missed.

A statement from the Taoiseach's office read:

"Cardinal Connell had a long and distinguished academic career and while his time as Archbishop was controversial, those who knew him recognised his desire for holiness and his gentleness and humility of character. The Taoiseach offered his sincere condolences to his family."

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