Church leaders pay tribute to 'one of our most able sons'
The death of Cardinal Cahal Daly meant Ireland lost "one of its brightest lights and most able sons", said Cardinal Sean Brady, his successor as Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh.
Tributes from Church and State, led by the President and the Taoiseach, echoed Cardinal Brady's assessment that Cardinal Daly (92) played a vital role in promoting reconciliation, peace and justice at a critical moment in Irish history.
"I believe, when fully assessed and appreciated, the legacy of Cardinal Cahal Daly to the ecclesiastical and civil history of Ireland will be seen as immense," Cardinal Brady said.
An expert theologian at the Second Vatican Council, 1962-65, Cardinal Daly worked untiringly for renewal in liturgical reform; renewal of religious life; the vocation of the lay faithful; catechetics; the social doctrine of the Church; and unity among Christians, added Cardinal Brady.
"He was firm and courageous in his absolute rejection of violence as a means of achieving political ends.
"With leaders of other Christian traditions, his work for reconciliation helped to create the environment and principles upon which a lasting political accommodation was eventually reached."
Cardinal Daly, who was the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland from 1990 until his retirement in 1996, died peacefully in the presence of family and friends at the City Hospital in Belfast, where he had been treated for a heart condition since Monday.
From Loughguile, Co Antrim, Cardinal Daly, a major academic and trenchant public speaker who served as a bishop in Longford and Belfast before his elevation to the premier See of Armagh, is survived by his sister Rosaleen, his brother Paddy, sisters-in-law Barbara and Mavis, his nieces and nephews, his extended family and all who mourn him in the dioceses of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Down and Connor, and Armagh.
President Mary McAleese said Cardinal Daly showed "immense courage in advocating a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the North and he was deeply committed to inter-church relations.
He was an outstanding scholar and writer, she added, who maintained his academic interests right up to the time of his death".
Describing Cardinal Daly as a trenchant supporter of peace, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he made a huge contribution to both the Catholic Church and civic society in Ireland.
"He was a member of the New Ireland Forum and later the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation," Mr Cowen added. "He was an outspoken critic of those who used violence to achieve political objectives.
"He gave strong backing to the emerging peace process in Northern Ireland and determinedly used his influence in every way he could to bring about a peaceful solution."
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny described Cardinal Daly as a celebrated ecclesiastic who played a central role in resolving the conflict in the North.
"Cardinal Daly and his Christian colleagues strove tirelessly for peace and sanity in the midst of great turmoil in the North," said Mr Kenny.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward, praised the late cardinal's wisdom that he showed during the dark days of the Troubles.
The Church of Ireland Primate, Rev Alan Harper, said Cardinal Daly was a fearless and forthright champion of peace and justice, always speaking out unambiguously on community issues during the darkest days of the Troubles.
Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Stafford Carson, said Cardinal Daly, an outstanding academic, would be remembered for the huge contribution he made to the developing of better relationships between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches.
"His Co Antrim roots, of which he was always proud, gave him a deep understanding of the essential part that Presbyterians have played in the history of our community, something he was always happy to explain to others", added Dr Carson.
"Completely and totally opposed to violence, he was an outspoken critic of the armed campaign of the IRA and recognised that any future arrangements for the governance of Northern Ireland had to involve Unionist and Nationalist, Protestant and Catholic in order to create a community in which everyone could feel at home."