Former Church of Ireland Primate Lord Eames today paid tribute to Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Dr Sean Brady on his elevation to the College of Cardinals.
Speaking in London, Lord Eames told the Belfast Telegraph: "I am delighted. This honour is thoroughly deserved and I am pleased, not only for Cardinal Brady but also for the people of Armagh and the arch-diocese. He and I worked closely together during my time as Archbishop of Armagh and I greatly valued his personal friendship and support."
Dr Brady yesterday said his elevation to cardinal was an expression of the Pope's desire to see the peace process continue to succeed and become a model for the rest of the world.
He said he was delighted and humbled to be among 24 new cardinals announced by Pope Benedict XVI at the end of his weekly audience in St Peter's Square, Rome.
Speaking in Armagh, Archbishop Brady said: "I hope that those who have worked so hard to establish peace in recent years will see in this honour a further expression of Pope Benedict's confidence in what has been achieved in Northern Ireland.
"Recently, the Holy Father expressed his hope that the peace which is already bringing renewed hope in Northern Ireland will inspire others across the world to recognise that only forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual respect can bring lasting peace."
He said he knew that the continued success of the political institutions in Northern Ireland and the effort to move to the deeper dimensions of reconciliation were matters close to the heart of the Pope.
"I believe this announcement is in part an expression of his desire to see that process continue to succeed and become a model for the rest of the world," said Archbishop Brady.
He revealed he had had expressions of support and messages of goodwill from across Ireland - including from the Office of First Minster and Deputy First Minister at Stormont.
Messages also came from Irish president Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and both the British and Irish governments.
"I feel humbled in the face of such compelling good wishes and support on behalf of our political community," he said, adding: "I assure all those with political and civic responsibility of my continued commitment to working with them for the common good of the whole of this island."
When he is created cardinal in Rome on November 24, it will mean that, for the first time in history, Ireland will have three cardinals.
Archbishop Brady's predecessor Cardinal Cahal Daly and Cardinal Desmond Connell were among the first to offer him their congratulations.
As the other two cardinals are aged over 80, Archbishop Brady, (68), will be the only one with a vote in the College of Cardinals.
His elevation comes at a time of falling numbers attending Mass in Ireland and he touched on that during a Press conference in Armagh.
He said: "My hope is that this appointment will in some sense help people to appreciate again the value of the heritage of their Christian faith."
He received a standing ovation when he dropped in to St Patrick's Cathedral to attend a special Mass for girls attending St Catherine's College, Armagh.