FORMER Archbishop of Birmingham George Dwyer died last week aged 78. A close friend of Cardinal Heenan and once the President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, he has been remembered as a blunt and witty man.
While Archbishop of Birmingham, he suspended a priest who had described an IRA hunger striker as "a very brave man." He also refused permission for a funeral service to be conducted for an IRA member who was killed planting a bomb.
During the war, he taught in Manchester, and in 1947 was summoned to London to help the work of the Church Missionary Society.
His career followed that of John Heenan's very closely. They had been students together in Rome during the 30s, and George Dwyer succeeded Cardinal Heenan as the Superior of the Catholic Missionary Society, as Bishop of Leeds, and as chairman of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. When Cardinal Heenan died in 1975, Archbishop Dwyer let it be known that he considered himself too old for the job, but did allow himself to head the Bishops' Conference for three years.
A whole-hearted supporter of the reforms introduced by the Second Vatican Council, he is widely credited for introducing English into the Mass to replace Latin.
He retired in 1981, and had been ill for some time. His publications include The Catholic Faith.