Pope asks primate to celebrate funeral Mass for Cardinal Daly
THE POPE has shown his personal affection for Cardinal Cahal Daly by nominating Cardinal Sean Brady to celebrate his Requiem Mass today.
In an unprecedented move, Cardinal Brady will act as Pope Benedict XVI's personal legate at the ceremony in St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh city.
A telegram sent by Pope Benedict to Cardinal Brady expressing admiration for Cardinal Daly will be read out at the end of the Mass.
It will be read by Fr Eugene Sweeney, the administrator of St Patrick's Cathedral.
The move means that the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, who faced criticism for not responding to Judge Yvonne Murphy concerning her report into paedophile priest cover-ups in the archdiocese of Dublin, will not be present in Armagh today.
In his tribute, Pope Benedict recalled with special gratitude Cardinal Daly's peace-making work in the North and his long years of devoted pastoral service.
Last night, the two gestures from the Pontiff were described in church circles as a mark of the high esteem which His Holiness held Cardinal Daly as a fellow scholar and orthodox churchman.
"I think it is very unusual," said Fr Sweeney, a former diocesan secretary to Cardinal Daly during his six years, from 1990 to 1996, as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
"I have never heard of a Pope doing anything like this, certainly in Ireland," added Fr Sweeney. It is an indication of the great personal affection which Pope Benedict had for Cardinal Daly."
Dignitaries from Church and State in the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain will join with parishioners from all parts of the archdiocese of Armagh at today's service.
These will include President Mary McAleese, a native of Belfast, where Dr Daly served as Bishop of Down and Connor from 1982 to 1990, and Taoiseach Brian Cowen, while Dr James Reilly and Roscommon TD Frank Feehan will represent Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.
The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, and Stormont Security Minister, Paul Goggins, will represent the British government.
A DUP spokesman said First Minister Peter Robinson will not attend due to family circumstances.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, is due to attend the ceremony for the late Cardinal Daly who was an outspoken and consistent critic of the Provisional IRA's armed struggle.
Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy, SDLP leader Mark Durkan, former leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume will attend.
But many unionist representatives on Armagh City Council will not be there as the funeral of Trevor Kennedy, father of UUP Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy, is also taking place today. Instead, the UUP will be represented by Ken Maginnis, MP for Fermanagh and Tyrone from 1983 to 2000.
Cardinal Desmond Connell, who has been avoiding media since publication of the Murphy report, will not be present. However, he attended the special Mass for Cardinal Daly in Belfast on Sunday.
The chief mourners will be Patrick Daly (brother), Rosaleen Daly (sister), Barbara Daly and Mavis Daly (sisters in law), nephews and nieces including Fr Brian Daly, a priest of the Diocese of Down and Connor.