Irish Cardinal Desmond Connell, the retired archbishop of Dublin, died Feb. 21 at the age of 90.
A philosopher and strong defender of traditional Catholic values, including regarding divorce, contraception and abortion, Cardinal Connell’s accomplishments during his 16 years as head of the Archdiocese of Dublin were overshadowed by the church’s sluggish pace in coming to terms with the scope and devastation of clerical sexual abuse scandals.
Born in Dublin, Cardinal Connell was ordained in 1951. He earned a doctorate in philosophy before becoming a lecturer in the Department of Metaphysics at University College, Dublin.
By 1988, when St. John Paul II named him archbishop of Dublin, he was professor of general metaphysics and dean of the philosophy faculty, well-known in academic and theological circles. As archbishop, he worked hard to clear the diocesan debt and to build new schools and parishes in response to the rapid population growth in the greater Dublin area.
Cardinal Connell’s death leaves the College of Cardinals with 225 members, 118 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.