John Hume honoured with Papal KnighthoodSunday, July 8th, 2012
The Nobel Laureate and former SDLP leader in Northern Ireland John Hume (75) has been awarded a Papal Knighthood by the Pope.
Mr Hume has been made a Knight of St Gregory for his peace work that led to the cessation of violence and the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Hume, who is from Derry, founded the SDLP, which represented the majority of nationalists in Northern Ireland for many years until it was overtaken in the polls by Sinn Féin. Mr Hume was one of the architects of the peace process as the second leader of the SDLP from 1979 to 2001.
The former civil rights protestor served as a member of the European parliament and as an MP for Foyle, as well as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
In announcing the honour, Monsignor Eamon Martin said that the Papal Knighthood has been conferred on Mr Hume in recognition of his outstanding services to Catholic Social Teaching in the area of peace.
Within the next year, the Church will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed John XXIII’s Encyclical Pacem in Terris, in which he addressed the issues of world peace, justice and human rights.
Monsignor Martin continued, “In light of this anniversary, it is particularly appropriate that the Holy Father should recognise Mr Hume with a papal knighthood. Mr Hume has worked tirelessly for peace and justice, at considerable personal cost and risk. In doing this, he has testified to the fundamental dignity of human beings and the universal, inviolable and inalienable rights presented by Blessed John XXIII in Pacem in Terris.”
Pope Gregory XVI instigated the order several months after becoming Pope in 1830, to bestow thanks on the Italians and Austrians who fought to restore his authority to the Papal States.
Details of the honour were announced on Friday July 6 during the final ceremony of the Derry diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. Both Mr Hume and his wife Pat are on the pilgrimage.
Mr Hume was also congratulated by a number of his party colleagues, including South down MP and former party leader Margaret Ritchie who tweeted, “Congrats to John Hume on being awarded a Papal Knighthood by His Holiness Pope Benedict.”
Mr Hume who was named Ireland's Greatest in a public poll by Irish broadcaster RTÉ to find the greatest person in the country's history is expected to be presented with the Scroll of Conferral at a special ceremony, most probably in Derry, at a later date.
by Sean Ryan