Desmond Cardinal Connell † Desmond Cardinal Connell †
Function:
Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin, Ireland
Title:
Cardinal Priest of San Silvestro in Capite
Birthdate:
Mar 24, 1926
Country:
Ireland
Elevated:
Feb 21, 2001
More information:
www.catholic-hierarchy.org
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English Cardinal Desmond Connell
Mar 02, 2017
History is made as two archbishops receive cleric

Feb 23, 2017

Irish ecumenical history was made on Thursday night when the remains of Cardinal Desmond Connell were received at St Mary
English Cardinal Desmond Connell dies aged 90
Feb 21, 2017
Former Catholic Archbishop of Dublin and Cardinal Desmond Connell has died.

Born in March 1926, he was Archbishop of Dublin from 1988 until 2004 and a cardinal since 2001.

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin said that Cardinal Connell, who had been ill for some time, passed away peacefully during the night in his sleep.

Cardinal Connell formally resigned in April 2004 and handed over the care of the Dublin archdiocese to his co-adjutor, Archbishop Martin.

Then, Archbishop Martin said history would recognise that Dr Connell acted in accordance with his conscience when handling clerical sex abuse scandals.

Cardinal Connell (L) with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Cardinal Connell with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Cardinal Connell
Cardinal Connell at the ordination of four priests in 2002

Cardinal Connell retained his cardinal's hat and, for two more years, a vote in papal election.

Although he claimed he was appalled at the scale of abuse when he took office, he appeared slow to address the issue, opting for secret internal church tribunals to defrock abusive priests rather than potentially explosive public prosecutions.

The 2009 Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, known as the Murphy Report, found that the then Archbishop Connell's strategies in refusing to admit liability often added to the hurt and grief of many victims of abuse.

In 2008, the cardinal got an injunction against the commission preventing it from examining files.

He withdrew the High Court attempt 11 days later, amid speculation that he may have been persuaded by fellow clergy in retirement to hand over his problems to his successor.

The Murphy Report stated that the commission had no doubt that clerical child abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other church authorities.

It also found that the structures and rules of the church facilitated that cover-up. It also said that State authorities facilitated the cover up by allowing the church to be beyond the reach of the law.

   RT
English Cardinal willing to go to jail rather than release files
Feb 07, 2008
Cardinal Desmond Connell has told friends that he is prepared to go to jail rather than release confidential diocesan files.

(independent.ie, February 07 2008) The cardinal is said to have told friends in Rome that he would risk prosecution, and was prepared, if necessary, to go to jail rather than breach the confidentiality of Dublin diocesan files relating to victims of alleged abuse, as well as some accused priests.

A report in today's edition of 'The Irish Catholic' says that the 81-year-old cardinal acted as a man of principle rather than covering up secret files about his handling of complaints by victims of paedophile priests.

The newspaper also challenges claims that Cardinal Connell is very unwell.

The Irish Independent has learned that Cardinal Connell suffered a hairline fracture to his pelvic bone, while in Rome last week.

After being admitted to hospital, his injury was found to be minor, and on Friday morning he was transferred to the Pontifical Irish College.

The cardinal was well enough to dine out on Friday evening with friends, and returned over the weekend to Dublin, where he was admitted to a Dublin nursing home, but was allowed to return to his Glasnevin residence on Monday evening.

The report suggests that Cardinal Connell took his controversial High Court case last week against disclosure by the Government Commission of Investigation in the Dublin archdiocese, as a desperate move, following an apparent breakdown in communication with his successor, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

But last night 'The Irish Catholic' editor Garry O'Sullivan said that he could not ascertain from the Dublin diocesan communications office whether Archbishop Martin told Cardinal Connell, between December 19 of last year and late January, that all the files were being handed over to the Commission.

"The diocesan communications office cannot clearly say when the cardinal was informed," Mr O'Sullivan added.

Last night, in response to questions from the Irish Independent, there was no comment from Archbishop Martin's media office on the newspaper's claims.

Questions about the leadership of the Catholic Church's largest diocese by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, as well as his handling of events leading to the two prelates' public conflict, are raised by an accompanying editorial.

"Cardinal Connell has been painted as the bad old face of the Church versus the new 'can do' persona of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin," the paper says.

"Cardinal Connell has remained silent, Archbishop Martin has not. In fact, he went as far as implying that Cardinal Connell was interfering in his ministry and that the cardinal was not well."

Last night Mr O'Sullivan told the Irish Independent that several abuse victims approached Cardinal Connell when he was Archbishop of Dublin and confided in him on the condition of strict confidentiality.

These victims had continued with their lives and didn't want to be part of any garda or health service inquiries, but wanted the archbishop to know what had happened to them.

"The cardinal is also concerned about priests who were accused of abuse but whose cases have been left in a legal limbo or who have been accused but not convicted. It is believed that he feels a direct and personal responsibility to those to whom he gave assurances of strict confidentiality," he added.

Last night a spokesperson for Archbishop Martin said that the only matters of fact the archdiocese could verify as accurate in 'The Irish Catholic' was that Archbishop Martin provided to the Commission all those documents relevant to the investigation.

"This includes all the documents in respect of which there is a claim of privilege, including those in relation to insurance," the statement said.

"A separate matter we can verify is that Archbishop Martin informed Cardinal Connell of his intentions and motivations with regard to the legally privileged documents."
English Marvellous Compassion and Understanding
Jul 23, 2005
The election of Benedict XVI made a very good impression on me. At the announcement of Cardinal Medina, some people probably wondered whether Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, would be a pastor or rather a theologian, or perhaps a man withdrawn from contact with ordinary people. By Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin

(30Days, May 2005) And what we have seen since his election shows that he is a true pastor.

I was deeply moved by his homily on the day of the inauguration of his ministry, particularly by the use of the image of the wasteland. Many people, for different reasons, including poverty and abandonment, are living in the wasteland of modern, secular society. It seemed to me that in the words of the Holy Father there was a wonderful compassion and understanding of the suffering of people in today’s world. I saw the Pope opening his heart to the suffering.

Now I was also very impressed by the concerns that he has at heart. He is anxious to develop collegiality. I think that this caused some surprise, but it is clear that he is anxious to find a way forward to develop what the Second Vatican Council wanted. It is quite clear that like John Paul II he is a man of the Second Vatican Council and he does want to establish the thinking of the Second Vatican Council deeply within the Church.

He spoke also about his concerns for peace and reconciliation in the world. He is following the example of his predecessor Benedict XV who during the First World War made the first great steps on the part of the Holy See to be involved in the search for the peace and reconciliation required in order to make life livable. Pope Benedict XVI is also greatly involved in the development of the ecumenic mission of the Church, because it is a fundamental part of the seeking for that unity for which Christ prayed at the Last Supper. These are some of my first thoughts.
English Connell's Calvary
Apr 07, 2005
Cardinal Desmond Connell Age: 76 Appearance : bespectacled stooped professor Newsworthiness: at the centre of the clerical paedophillia scandal. By Kieron Wood.

(THE POST.IE, April 14, 2002) Before Desmond Connell was appointed Archbishop of Dublin, he was on retreat in Rome when an inscription caught his eye. Taken from St John's gospel, it read: "In the world, you will have trouble".

He could hardly have imagined the extent to which that prediction would come true over the next 14 years.

The apogee of Connell's Calvary was apparent at last week's Maynooth news conference, when the 76-year-old prelate sat with head bowed as the Catholic hierarchy confessed its inadequate response to the scandal of clerical child abuse.

But Connell is no stranger to controversy. Since his surprise appointment to the see of Dublin in January 1988 he has seldom been out of the headlines.

The appointment of the unknown academic to head the country's most important diocese came as a shock to many -- and as a serious disappointment to the Church's liberal wing. Connell quickly proved himself a staunchly conservative prelate. He had already published a book arguing against the ordination of women. He was soon called on to defend Catholic teaching on a range of other controversial social and religious topics, including divorce, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, Sunday trading, and intercommunion. Most recently he has been obliged to face the storm over the sexual abuse of children by priests.

The 1988 move from his semi-detached house in Booterstown to the episcopal palace in Drumcondra brought Connell full circle and back to his northside Dublin roots.

Born on March 24, 1926, Connell was educated at Belvedere College. From his parents he absorbed a love of music. His father, John, from Moycullen in Co Galway, was a civil servant and member of the Irish delegation to the Ottawa Conference of 1932. He was later appointed by taoiseach Sean Lemass as managing director of the Irish Sugar Company. He died when Connell was 13.

The claim to fame of his mother, Mary (née Lacy), was that she had been on duty as a telephonist at the General Post Office on Easter Monday 1916 and was escorted to safety by The O'Rahilly.

Connell's father had a fine bass voice, and his mother was a pianist. At Belvedere College this family musical background was reflected in Connell's participation in Gilbert and Sullivan operas and his fondness for the works of Puccini and Verdi. In later years his favourite composers were Bruckner, Mahler and Elgar. Today he takes a keen interest in the affairs of Our Lady's Choral Society, of which he is ex officio president.

Connell entered the diocesan seminary, Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, in 1943 and began studying philosophy at UCD, gaining first class honours in his BA and MA. He went on to study at Maynooth, where he obtained the Bachelor of Divinity degree. Following his ordination in 1951, he spent two years at the Institut Supérieur de Philosophie in Louvain, where he was awarded a PhD "avec la plus grande distinction" for his dissertation on The Passivity of Understanding in Malebranche.

In 1953, Connell joined UCD's department of metaphysics in Earlsfort Terrace. For the next 35 years his life was centred on the university. In 1967, he published his major work, The Vision in God -- Malebranche's Scholastic Sources. He was appointed professor of general metaphysics in 1972 and became dean of the faculty of philosophy and sociology in 1984.

UCD chaplain Fr Kieran McDermott says: "His students over the years -- as well as his colleagues, both academic and non-academic -- always found him courteous and approachable, unhurried and generous with his time."

But four years after becoming dean a telephone call from the papal nuncio changed his life. From the serene groves of academe he was hurled into the national and international media spotlight as Archbishop of Dublin.

His public utterances on the controversies of the day have always attracted media attention, but his comments have landed him in hot water on more than one occasion.

In 1997 he was taken to task for appearing to describe Anglican communion as a "sham". The comment followed the decision of President Mary McAleese to receive communion in Dublin's Christ Church cathedral.

The resulting uproar forced the archbishop to explain that he did not mean that Anglican communion was cheap or shoddy, but that it was "not what it appeared to be". The archbishop said that if the rules for intercommunion were changed because of public pressure, there could be "a blurring of the boundaries about what we believe about the Eucharist and about who we are."

Cardinal Cahal Daly, speaking shortly afterwards at the University of Salford in England, said the episode had caused him "immense upset" but he backed Connell. "As Cardinal Basil Hume [the late head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales] stated in Ireland recently, the first condition for genuine inter-church dialogue is for each church to respect the regulations of the other, and he was quite right," said Daly.

But the issue of intercommunion did not go away. In 1999 Connell turned down an invitation from the dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Robert MacCarthy, to allow Catholic priests to celebrate Mass in the Cathedral on weekdays. Connell's spokesman said he believed there was "a risk of the Eucharist becoming a divisive issue" because of the division within the Church of Ireland over the proposal.

In an interview with The Sunday Business Post last year Connell made reference to incidents where Anglican ministers had offered communion to Catholics at events with mixed congregations.

"The Church of Ireland knows, for example, that we have a very clear position on the question of Catholics receiving communion in churches other than Catholic churches," he said. "Now, it is all very well to say that everybody whose conscience permits is welcome to come to communion, but in circumstances when it is known that this is tantamount to an invitation to Catholics to come to communion, that fails to respect the faith and obligations of our members and, consequently, the cause of ecumenism.

"I like to be honest and to face the differences honestly, but I do not think that the whole question of intercommunion is being sufficiently clearly dealt with at the moment."

The remarks led to a storm of protest, but Connell refused to back down. His relationship with the Anglicans was not improved when, last October, Connell questioned the theological qualifications of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin. Connell had said in an interview for a book that Empey "wouldn't have much theological competence", and wouldn't be regarded as one of the Church of Ireland's "high flyers".

The cardinal later said that he regretted having spoken about Empey "in a way which might have appeared to denigrate him" and explained that he sometimes said things in the course of an interview "without sufficiently adverting to the reactions of others".

In the same interview Connell accused Trinity College of insulting him -- "and through me, the Catholic people of Dublin" -- for awarding an honorary degree to Donald Caird, then Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, to celebrate the Dublin Millennium.

"To celebrate the centenary of the city of Dublin by awarding the Protestant archbishop with an honorary degree and leaving me sitting down watching it was a downright insult," he said.

The petulant remark did little to improve the public perception of the archbishop. He is seen by many as aloof and out of touch, or as an intellectual snob -- but that's not how all his colleagues perceive him.

One man who worked closely with Connell over several years said: "Many people see him as impersonal, but it's simply not true that he has no heart. He values family life, and is very close to his brother and sister-in-law. And he's kind and attentive to the people who work for him.

"He's something of an ascetic, the sort of chap who would leave the table five minutes before he was full. He used to enjoy an occasional tipple, but I believe he gave that up for some time as a personal form of penance for the behaviour of abusive priests.

"Even people who don't agree with his religious or moral views respect him because you know where you stand with him. What you see is what you get."

The colleague said that Connell was deeply hurt that he was regarded as having lied over the Fr Ivan Payne affair. Connell lent the paedophile priest money to compensate his victims, but later said that "diocesan funds are in no way used" for such purposes.

"When he said that in 1995 it was true, as diocesan policy had changed," said the colleague. "The Payne case didn't even occur to him, as this question came at the end of an interview on a different matter. I think it's one of the biggest crosses he has had to bear, that reasonable people think Cardinal Connell told a fib."

In his own words, Connell has "tried to be a Catholic voice in our society". His faithfulness in that role was rewarded by his appointment to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and to the Congregation of Bishops. He also served on the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in Rome.

In January last year -- 13 years to the day after Connell's appointment to the see of Dublin -- the papal nuncio sprang another surprise by announcing that the archbishop was to be made a cardinal. This was the first time the red hat had come to Dublin for more than 100 years, and was seen as further evidence of the trust that Rome reposes in Connell.

But the week before Connell received the red hat he again raised hackles by remarks he made in an interview with The Sunday Business Post. Apart from attacking intercommunion, he censured couples who lived together, criticised unrestricted immigration and called for the appointment of a Catholic bishop as a direct contact with the government of the day.

For Connell, the red hat was the pinnacle of his career. Over the past year he has seen a steady erosion of his authority. Last December the bishops -- unexpectedly -- backed the government's controversial proposals for an abortion referendum. Connell gave the proposal his personal blessing, indicating that he would be voting yes and advising Catholics to do likewise. They didn't.

After the failure of the bishops to persuade their flock to follow their advice on the referendum, the authority of the hierarchy was further diminished by the reaction to the BBC documentary Suing the Pope.

Following the resignation of Bishop Brendan Comiskey of Ferns over his handling of the Fr Sean Fortune abuse scandal, Connell -- in a joint statement with Archbishop Seán Brady of Armagh -- offered his "profound apologies" to all victims of such abuse, describing the sexual abuse of children by priests as "an especially grave and repugnant evil".

"We realise that the whole Church in Ireland is suffering at this time from the scandal caused by this evil and the manner in which it was dealt with at times," he said. "It is a scandal which has evoked entirely justified outrage. The sexual abuse of children by priests is totally in conflict with the Church's mission and with Christ's compassion and care for the young.

"We realise that the events of recent weeks have also caused great distress and anxiety to the faithful throughout Ireland . . . Not only has trust in the Catholic Church been damaged, but so too has the faith of the people and the morale of clergy."

Last Monday Connell and the rest of the hierarchy belatedly responded to the scandal by proposing an independent audit of the way dioceses have dealt with complaints of child sexual abuse. But even then Connell and the three other bishops at the news conference refused to detail the extent of the problem in their individual dioceses.

Connell complained that he had suffered "agonies" over "this thing" which had "devastated" his period of office. In a rare public show of feeling, he told journalists: "I am as human as any of you."

Today, 50 years after disserting on the passivity of understanding in Malebranche, perhaps the time has come for the cardinal to reflect on his own passivity of understanding and consider how best to address that problem.

Connell's words of wisdom

Abortion:

I am not assuming that everybody listening is going to agree with me. But I listen to what the liberals are saying; why shouldn't they listen to what I am saying?

Intercommunion:

I do feel bound to say that the cause of ecumenism would be greatly helped if the Catholic Church's rules for its own members could be respected.

Sex:

One thing that worries me very much is the fact that many young people are living together and not getting married. It's a very worrying development and it's gaining social respectability.

Family life:

It appears to me that the market is receiving more consideration than the family.

Sunday trading:

We are losing things that have been traditionally highly regarded, we are surrendering them without noticing. Nobody passes any comment -- and then we will find some day that they are gone and we have a different kind of world.

Connell as Pope:

There is not the slightest chance of that. It's a non-starter anyway. But if you want reasons, the first one is that I don't speak any Italian. You can't become the Bishop of Rome if you don't speak Italian.
English Cardinal Connell Hits at New Church Architecture
Apr 07, 2005
Remarks come as Catholics in Cobh plan campaign of opposition to £10 million cathedral renovation scheme. By Kieron Wood.

(THE POST.IE, March 04, 2001) The new Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin has hit out at the state of liturgy and architecture in the Catholic Church. This is the first time Dr Desmond Connell has publicly criticised the changes in church architecture and liturgy which followed the Second Vatican Council. Both issues have been at the root of significant public dissent and controversy in Ireland over the past 30 years.

In an interview following his appointment as cardinal, Dr Connell was asked whether he had any plans to build a cathedral in Dublin. (At present, the Anglican Church of Ireland has two cathedrals in the capital -- Christ Church, the diocesan cathedral, and St Patrick's, the national cathedral. The Catholic Church has only a `pro-cathedral'.)

Connell responded: "None whatsoever. If I had the wealth of Croesus itself, I would not build a cathedral because liturgy and architecture at the moment are in such confusion that anything that would be built at this stage would be rejected in a very short time."

The cardinal's remarks are especially significant as he is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican's watchdog body which enforces doctrinal matters, including liturgical orthodoxy.

Connell's remarks came as Catholics in Cobh stepped up their campaign of opposition to a £10 million scheme to renovate St Colman's Cathedral. The Pugin-designed church, which dates back to 1886, dominates the skyline of the Co Cork town.

The Friends of St Colman's Cathedral (FSCC) last week issued a press statement calling on Bishop John Magee of Cloyne to heed local opposition to plans to re-order the interior of the cathedral.

The proposals include the removal of a large section of altar rails, including the sanctuary gate, and the extension of the sanctuary into the nave, obliterating over 85 feet of mosaic flooring.

Five hundred local people had attended a meeting called by the bishop at the Commodore Hotel in June 1998 to discuss the proposed alterations.

"Bishop Magee promised that no changes would take place without the consent of the people, and that he would come back to them in six months," said Adrian O'Donovan, vice-chairman of the FSCC. "Two-and-a-half years later, the matter still remains unresolved."

The protesters say a petition objecting to the proposed changes was signed by 5,350 people in Cobh -- 97 per cent of those approached -- and by a total of 24,124 Catholics in the diocese. Diocesan PR consultant Robin O'Sullivan said the proposed changes to the cathedral sanctuary had been "misrepresented to some degree", but O'Donovan insisted that every signatory of the petition had been given details of the proposed changes.

A colour brochure produced by the diocese in response to the protests says: "Some parishioners had understandable fears that `destruction' would be done in this beautiful cathedral church." But it added that an explanatory leaflet sent to every house in Cobh had "clarified" the "misconceptions". Bishop Magee, in a letter to parishioners, said the changes to the cathedral interior were necessary "to bring it into line with the liturgical norms of the Second Vatican Council".

But O'Donovan pointed out that such changes -- the removal of altar rails, reorientation of the altar so that the priest faced the people, and removal of the pulpit -- were not mandated by the council.

"We have been patient now for a very long time," said O'Donovan. "We hope and pray that our bishop will listen to his flock."

Four years ago a similar row in Carlow ended up in the Supreme Court. The Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Dr Laurence Ryan, said the re-ordering of the Cathedral of the Assumption was "painful for many of us" but the changes were necessary to give "new life" to the cathedral liturgy.

Local people had objected to the relocation of the Blessed Sacrament from its traditional place on the main altar and to the removal of the pulpit. The changes also involved removing altar rails, a carved timber pulpit presented by the people of Bruges and a mosaic floor, as well as covering the stained-glass east window.

The re-ordered cathedral was eventually rededicated in June 1997, at a ceremony in which Archbishop Connell was one of those who officiated.

Liturgical dissent has also caused problems for the new cardinal.

Followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who oppose the new English-language liturgy, bought a former Church of Ireland church in Monks-town as a base for their Irish operations.

Following Lefebvre's consecration of four bishops without Vatican approval in 1988 -- and their subsequent excommunication -- the problem has worsened.

In the wake of the excommunications, Pope John Paul II called on bishops to allow the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Latin Mass where Catholics asked for it. The Pope stated: "Respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued by the Apostolic See for the use of the [1962] Roman Missal."

He set up the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei (Church of God) to cater for supporters of the Tridentine Mass.

At the request of groups of traditionally-minded Catholics, Connell agreed to allow the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated in Dublin.

Embarrassingly for the archdiocese, the church provided for the old Mass -- St Michael's and John's on Wood Quay, Dublin -- was regularly packed with young and old worshippers, while Mass attendance in other city centre parishes regularly dipped below 10 per cent.

Shortly afterwards, the church was sold for conversion to a Viking museum. The Tridentine Mass was transferred to St Paul's Church on Arran Quay, where it again attracted large congregations. That church, too, was shut down.

The Mass is now celebrated every Sunday in St Audoen's Church, near Christ Church Cathedral. Regular worshippers include a High Court judge, senior lawyers and politicians.

Connell attended the church in July 1999, for the first Irish Mass of Dubliner Fr William Richardson, who was ordained specifically for the old rite. In 1997 the Archdiocese of Dublin -- which includes over a million Catholics -- failed to attract a single vocation to the diocesan priesthood.

But Lefebvre's followers considered the so-called `indult Mass' to be no more than a temporary sop.

They bought several more churches and chapels around the country and set up their own school.

Worldwide, their numbers are now estimated to exceed a million and the Vatican is currently engaged in secret talks to bring them back into the Catholic fold.

A central figure in those talks is Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, head of the CDF, who was last week appointed to the Ecclesia Dei commission. Ratzinger has been prominent in the continuing controversy over the standard of the vernacular liturgy. He has celebrated the Tridentine Mass publicly on several occasions, and has criticised the new liturgy.

Ratzinger said the freedom for creativity allowed by the new Mass had "often gone too far", and added: "Happily, there is a certain distaste for the rationalism, banality and pragmatism of certain liturgists, be they theoreticians or practitioners.

"One can see evidence of a return to mystery, to adoration, to the sacred, and to the cosmic and eschatological character of the liturgy."

Appointed to join Ratzinger on the Ecclesia Dei commission last week were Cardinal Jorge Estevez, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and newly-created Cardinal Louis-Marie Bille( of Lyons, president of the French bishops' conference. The commission president is Cardinal Angelo Felici.

The commission's four cardinal members reflect the importance the Vatican attaches to resolving the current liturgical confusion -- a problem that Connell has now publicly acknowledged.
English Cardinal Defends Marriage
Sept 18, 2004
Cardinal Desmond Connell pointedly referred to the Catholic Church's reverence for the family and marriage when he spoke during last night's State reception held in his honour to mark his elevation to the cardinalate by Pope John Paul II.

(15 May 2001) The Dublin Castle reception, attended by nearly 1,400 people, was overshadowed by the role to be played at it by the Taoiseach's partner, Ms Celia Larkin, whose name was on the invitation cards alongside that of Mr Ahern.

In his address, the cardinal said a leading churchman had observed "that losing important values without people noticing what is really happening creates the situation that the church faces today. "It is the situation of those who find that fundamental values have been lost without their having noticed the danger. This explains why the Church so insistently defends that most basic of all human rights, the right to life.

"The Church too has a profound reverence for the home, designed by the Creator through marriage and family as the deep centre of human intimacy on which the whole future of our society depends.

"And so it has been critical, for example, of political moves in the European Parliament when this has been required in defence of the family,"
he told the guests gathered in St Patrick's Hall.

He said he "deeply appreciated" the honour accorded to him of a State reception. "I thank the Taoiseach and the members of the Government for this recognition of the Holy Father's great benevolence towards our land."

Later, he said: "I was greatly honoured by the presence of the Taoiseach and of the members of the State representation at the Consistory in Rome. With all my heart I thank them for their deeply appreciated goodness."

He paid tribute to politicians, past and present, for their "indispensable part in our recent economic advancement. "With a deep appreciation of our indebtedness, I willingly salute and wish to encourage those men and women who so generously devote their lives to this patriotic service," the cardinal said.
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