Pope Francis tribute to Bishop Daly read out at funeral
Pope Francis led tributes to the late Bishop Edward Daly yesterday for his “generous and dedicated” work for peace.
In a message read at the start of Requiem Mass in Derry, the pope offered his condolences to the Churchman's family and thanks for his life.
Dr Daly, immortalised as the priest with the blood-stained handkerchief on Bloody Sunday, died on Monday morning at the age of 82 following a long illness.
An estimated 25,000 people filed past his open coffin as it lay at St Eugene’s Cathedral in the days leading up to his funeral.
The cathedral, Dr Daly’s seat as bishop, was also packed yesterday with hundreds of people overflowing into the grounds for his Mass.
Pope Francis’s personal message was delivered by Monsignor Amaury Medina Blanco, Chargé d’Affairs at the apostolic nunciature in Dublin.
Dr Daly’s sisters, Anne Gibson and Marion Ferguson, were joined by President Michael D Higgins.
Chief celebrant at the Requiem Mass was current Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown, who was joined by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Monsignor Blanco and many of Ireland's serving and retired bishops.
Other celebrants included the priests of the Derry diocese and from throughout Ireland and further afield, including former Ardoyne priest Fr Aidan Troy and Fermanagh cleric Fr Brian D’Arcy.
All of Ireland’s main Churches were represented, including former Church of Ireland Archbishop Robin Eames and former Bishop of Derry and Raphoe James Mehaffey, a close friend of Dr Daly.
Among the large contingent from political and civic life were Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and NIO minister Kris Hopkins.
The Irish government was represented by minister Joe McHugh and Taoiseach Enda Kenny by Commandant Kieran Carey, while both the Westminster government and opposition sent representatives.
Queen Elizabeth was represented by the lord lieutenant for Derry, Angela Garvey, and the lord lieutenant for the county, Denis Desmond.
There were also many figures from Dr Daly’s life in Derry, including former SDLP leader John Hume and former Stormont minister Ivan Cooper as well as singer/songwriter Phil Coulter and writer Nell McCafferty.
In his homily, Bishop McKeown said Dr Daly’s ministry had been marked by total dedication to his people.
“That dedication was visible in outstanding courage. He showed physical courage on Bloody Sunday. And his moral courage was evident in his passionate struggle against violence and injustice from all quarters,” he said.
“We are all blessed because we have seen how love can transform a blood-stained piece of cloth into an unforgettable symbol of divine compassion."
The Church leader also paid tribute to Bishop Daly’s work with Dr James Mehaffey.
“Their courageous work and real friendship were key factors in building up relationships across the diocese,” he said.
In a poignant tribute then to his brother priest, Dr McKeon quoted the words of St Paul.
“Edward Kevin Daly, your time of faithful service is over. You have fought the good fight, you have run the race, you have kept the faith.”
At the end of Requiem Mass, Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin paid his own tribute to the bishop who ordained him.
He said Bishop Daly was a great priest, a caring and compassionate pastor, a man of prayer and peace, a courageous and fearless leader and “a special person”.
“While many hearts are hurting in Derry and around Ireland this week, we are consoled in being able to say we knew a good and faithful servant of the Lord,” he said.