by Timothy Elphick POPE John Paul II said this week that he had "learned with sadness" of the death on March 8 of Patrick Keegan, the first layman ever to address a plenary session at a Council of the Church.
Mr Keegan, who died aged 74 at St Mary's Hospital, Bristol, after a short illness, was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of St Gregory by the Pope in 1979. The GCSG is the highest papal honour that can be bestowed on a lay member of the church.
Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool, a lifelong friend of Mr Keegan, said that he was "a wonderful man and one of the quite outstanding laymen in the church of this country". The archbishop, who led the funeral mass at Clifton Cathedral on Thursday, first met Mr Keegan soon after the second World War, when he was national president of the Young Christian Workers.
Archbishop Warlock dedicated his book Give Me Your Hand to Mr Keegan in 1977, and worked closely with him during the second Vatican Council.