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Statement from President Higgins on the death of Fr. Enda McDonagh

Date: Wed 24th Feb, 2021 | 16:46

News of the death of Enda McDonagh will have been heard with the greatest sadness and sense of loss by all those of his friends, students and listeners at the many events he attended, events he always enriched with his generous and deep compassionate scholarship.

His approach to philosophy, combined with a great personal capacity to communicate, meant that he was always in demand where conflicts had sown divisions, as someone who could transcend reductive binaries.

Being a most prominent and quoted defender of the right to personal conscience meant that he had to have courage, and he had it, delivering it again and again, often in circumstances where his defence of the integrity of conscience would result in exclusions, or distancing, from those for whom he had the warmest and respectful feelings, but who were adamant in their differences.

There are many who will recall, and I hope write of, his commitment to ecumenism, and the work that might bring an enabling peace on our island and in our relationship with others. 

May I just say that his sensitivity to the poor at home and abroad meant that he could see the significance of the work of the Liberation Theology Movement as not only emancipatory, but also as a walking in the spirit of Christ with the excluded, the oppressed, and the unjustly treated. He brought the same perspective to the role he supported for women as equals in participation in Church and society.

His, I recall so well, was the generous spirit that so many turned to, again and again, on public campaigns, when denunciations were so often more forthcoming than support, be it in relation to the ending of Apartheid, women’s rights, Travellers’ rights. He was always there to listen and support.

He will be missed by so many for a multitude of good reasons. 

To his family, people of Mayo of whom he was so fond, his colleagues and friends, of whom we were honoured to be part, Sabina and I send our condolences.

Síochán siorraí d’á anam lách uasal cineálta.