Belfast Telegraph

John Hume dedicates Papal knighthood to people of Derry

By George Jackson

John Hume has dedicated his Papal knighthood to the people of Londonderry.

Mr Hume, who won the Nobel Peace Prize with former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble in 1998, was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory by Pope Benedict last July.

At the weekend, lifelong friend, retired Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly, conducted the investiture ceremony of the former SDLP leader in St Eugene’s Cathedral. Mr Hume said he was both humbled and honoured by the award.

“I see it not as an award for me but for the people of Derry,” he said. “If it hadn't been for the great support from the people of Derry I wouldn't have been able to represent them nor achieve anything I did achieve.”

The award is one of dozens Mr Hume has received in recognition of his work for peace.

In Mr Hume's home cathedral, Bishop Daly described the former politician as someone years ahead of his time and said his determination to pursue a peaceful path inspired many around the world.

“John demonstrated to us that there was a non-violent and effective way to address the issues and injustices that confronted us,” Bishop Daly said. “He consistently demonstrated and exemplified that there was another way, a way that would not involve bloodshed, fear, destruction, intimidation, misery or thuggery, a way of dialogue rather than armed conflict.”

Mr Hume was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s. He was the SDLP’s deputy leader from the party’s foundation until 1979, when he became leader. He was Foyle MP and an MEP for more than 20 years, although his greatest achievement is said to be engaging republicans in peace talks that led to an end to the Troubles and the establishment of the Assembly.

Added Dr Daly: “He's been rightly recognised by the Holy Father for all the work he has done on behalf of the people of this city and on behalf of many others.”

Background

The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great was established in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI. The late Belfast comedian Frank Carson was made a Knight for his charity work. There are five orders of the knighthood — John Hume is a Knight Commander — bestowed on “gentlemen of proven loyalty who ... are deemed worthy to be honoured by an expression of esteem on the part of the Holy See”.

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