Cardinal was a figure of humility and gentleness

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

As reported in Wednesday’s News Letter (February 22) I agree with Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD’s assessment that the late Cardinal Desmond Connell will be remembered for his humility and gentleness.

He taught me logic as part of my BA studies in University (UCD) in the 1960s.

He was very approachable and stayed on after his lectures to answer any queries we eager students might have had concerning his lecture.

I found him to be a shy and reserved person and always respectful and mannerly towards us, green-around-the ears, philosophy undergraduates.

I understand that outside of his lecturing duties in College, he acted as the Chaplain to enclosed Carmelite Convents.

This background, along with his effacing personality, left him very much ill prepared to take on the duties of archbishop of Dublin; the largest archdiocese on the island of Ireland and particularly to pick up the pieces in the wake of clerical abuse scandals.

I had reason to write to him, when he was archbishop of Dublin, rebuking him on his handling of a certain matter. I was not satisfied with the response I received and took the matter further, ie to the Papal Nuncio, to have it brought to the Pope’s attention. I was well received by the Nuncio, who unawares to myself was seriously ill (he died not too long after our meeting).

In the course of my discussion with the Nuncio, I mentioned that I had stayed in Armenia and had done quite an amount of research on the Armenians.

I also mentioned that there were close links, historically, between the Polish people and Armenia.

The Nuncio said that he thought that Pope John Paul 11 would be interested, and would I bring a copy of my research material, on this Armenian Polish link, to the Nuncio, so that he could forward it to the Pope.

This I did, and it was, apparently, so well received by his Holiness that, soon after, he organised an exhibition on Armenia in the Vatican and as they say the rest is history.

Micheal O’Cathail, Fermanagh