Cardinal William Conway, Roman Catholic archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland, died Sunday at his home in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] , Northern Ireland, church spokesman said. He was 64.
He was convalescing from gall bladder surgery in a Dublin hospital last January and suffered a relapse last week. The cardinal suffered cardiac strain in 1975 because of a heavy workload.
The onset of Northern Ireland violence in 1969 brought a heavy budern to Cardinal Conway in his role as primate of the divided island of Ireland.
An outspoken critic of violence, Cardinal Conway repeatedly denounced both the militant provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army and Protestant paramilitary organizations.
Cardinal Conway was equally outspoken against what he called "institutionalized violence," which he believed discriminated against Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland.
He was one of the key figures in establishing a united ecumenical front among the four main churches in Ireland to preach peace.
"I find myself utterly depressed by the daily Litany of tragedy," he once told a friend. I have the great [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of knowing and believing that our prayers for peace will assuredly be answered."
As archbishop of Armagh - the Irish ecclesisastical capital in Northern Ireland's County Armagh - Cardinal Conway was the spiritual leader of some 450,000 Catholics in Northern Ireland and about three million in the Irish Republic to the south.
The cardinal was born Jan. 23, 1913, in Belfast's Lower Falls district, a mixed Catholic-Protestant district that has been the scene of much of the sectarian violence raging through Norhtern Ireland since August 1969.
He was the oldest of nine children and grew up in a two-story row house on Dover Street.
His father was a wholesale paint supplier with a small store in the heart of the city. His mother, now 86, still lives in bomb scared and fire-scorclied Belfast.
After education at St. Mary's Christian Brothers' School, St. Malachy's Secondary Secondary school and Queen's University, Cardinal Conway was awarded a theology doctorate from St. Patrick's College in Maynooth - Ireland's leading seminary and missionary training institution. He went on to Rome's Gregorian University where he won a doctorate in canon law and a gold medal.
Cardinal Conway assumed the holy orders in 1937 and after a spell as English professor at Maynooth became professor of moral theology.
At age 45, he made Irish ecclesiastical history by becoming the youngest Irish bishop and the first native of Belfast ever to achieve, that rank.
He was consecrated archbishop of Armagh in 1963 and in 1965 he was made a cardinal.