Cardinal Vincent Nichols has paid tribute to the former Irish attorney general and European commissioner Peter Sutherland, who died in St James Hospital Dublin yesterday at the age of 71. He had cancer. He is survived by his wife Maruja, née Cabria Valcarcel, and their three children Shane, Natalia and Ian.
He also served as director-general of the World Trade Organisation and was a former chairman of Goldman Sachs International.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: "Peter Sutherland was an immensely gifted and principled man, who in an extraordinarily wide ranging career made an outstanding contribution to public life not only in his native Ireland but also in Europe and indeed globally; to the world of business and also to the Catholic Church whose faithful - if not uncritical - servant he always remained.
"As Bishops in England and Wales we are greatly indebted to Peter. He was a close adviser to my predecessor, Cardinal Cormac, and gave generously of his time and money in support of the church's work both in Ireland and the UK. He was always willing to help the Church, whether in the local parish or assisting the Holy See more widely. His wisdom, shrewdness and passion for justice were a powerful combination, and he was a fearless and courageous public witness, not least in his work as the UN Secretary General's special envoy on international migration. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Mr Sutherland's children, Shane, Natalia and Ian said: "Above all things, Peter was a family man, totally in love with our mother Maruja from the moment they met almost 50 years ago. He was a wonderful father: loving, teaching, playful. We are consoled that in his last year we were able to repay some of his love and kindness.
"Next for Peter came his faith and his country and, finally, his belief in the European project as a route to peace, prosperity and justice for all.
"He was a devout Catholic. This didn't make him doctrinaire. Instead, it gave him a lifelong instinct for charity and volunteerism. It wasn't just about writing the cheque - he wanted to be with people. In the year before the onset of his final illness, he ceased his business activities and devoted himself to working with migrants, many of whom were in wretched circumstances. It was never an easy cause and rarely a popular cause. We were so proud that our father worked for the poorest of the poor.
"We were also so proud of his patriotism whether manifested through supporting his beloved Irish rugby team, his support of education at Gonzaga, UCD, Trinity or elsewhere, his formal and informal service to Irish governments of all hues and his work with the Ireland Fund of Great Britain which he was proud to chair and support.
"Others noticed his success in public life and his material success from business. We loved Papa because he was devoted to us and we to him."
Born in Dublin in April 1946, Mr Sutherland was educated at Gonzaga College in Ranelagh, He went on to study law at University College Dublin. He worked as a senior counsel for more than a decade before being appointed attorney general in 1981, for the first of two stints in the post. While in that office, he famously clashed with then Justice Michael Noonan over the wording of the 1983 Eighth Amendment relating to abortion. As AG, Mr Sutherland said the wording of the amendment was flawed and would cause considerable difficulty for medical practitioners.
In 2015 Peter Sutherland visited 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais and expressed his horror at the conditions there.
See: ICN 23 September 2015 - UN Representative visits Calais 'Jungle' www.indcatholicnews.com/news/28374