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Mourners honor Nobel laureate and peace advocate John Hume

Mourners remembered activist John Hume on Wednesday, celebrating the visionary politician who devoted his life to peace and forged the agreement that ended violence in his native Northern Ireland.

Only close family, friends and a smattering of politicians mourned the Catholic leader at his funeral at St. Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, also known as Derry, as the COVID-19 pandemic’s social distancing rules kept numbers low.

But Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama and U2 singer Bono were among those offering tributes to the man seen as the architect of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace agreement.

Prime Minster of Ireland Michael Martin arrives to attends the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume's funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Martin and his aide are wearing masks due to the Coronavirus outbreak. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

“Even in the darkest moments, when people would have been forgiven for having no hope, John made peace visible for others,'' Father Paul Farren said. “His vision revealed what could be, and with time and determination and single-mindedness and stubbornness he convinced others that peace could be a reality.''

Hume, who died Monday at age 83, shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with the Protestant leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble. Their efforts ended the sectarian violence that plagued the region for three decades and left more than 3,500 people dead.

Starting out as a civil rights activist, Hume fought for equal rights in what was then a Protestant-ruled state. But he condemned the Irish Republican Army because he detested violence and said injustice did not merit the taking of even one human life.

Prime Minster of Ireland Michael Martin arrives to attend the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume's funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Martin is wearing mask due to the Coronavirus outbreak. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

Although he advocated for a united Ireland, Hume believed change could not come to Northern Ireland without the consent of its Protestant majority. He also realized that better relations needed to be forged between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between London and Dublin.

Hume created a broad agenda for the discussions, arguing they must be driven by close cooperation between the British and Irish governments. Neutral figures like U.S. mediator George Mitchell oversaw the process, with decisions having to be ratified by public referendums in both parts of Ireland.

In other words, the people had to be part of the answer.

The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, center, arrives to attend former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume's funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Higgins is wearing a mask due ti the ongoing outbreak of the Coronavirus. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

“We were looking for revolution and found it in parish halls with tea and biscuits and late-night meetings under fluorescence,'' a tribute from the singer Bono said. “We were looking for a negotiator who understood that no one wins unless everyone wins and that peace is the only victory ... We were looking for a great leader and found a great servant. We found John Hume.''

Under normal circumstances, Hume's funeral would have been mobbed. Though the pandemic made that impossible, the family took the opportunity of international attention to stress that if Hume had the opportunity, he'd discuss our “common humanity, the need to respect diversity and difference, to protect and deepen democracy, to value education, and to place non-violence at the absolute center.''

Amid the sadness, there were lighthearted moments. His son, John Hume Jr., pointed out that his father had a few weaknesses.

Three men watch from the railings in the rain as attendees arrive for the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume's funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

“He also kept the Irish chocolate industry in healthy profits for many years. Yorkies, Crunchies, Creme Eggs, Double Deckers, Wispas, you name it, he loved them all,'' he said. “We often found it odd how a man with the intelligence to win a Nobel Prize could seriously believe that Crunchies were less fattening because they are full of air.”

Patricia Hume, center, with her with her son John Hume and daughter Mo arrive to attend her husband John Hume the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner, funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

First Minster of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster attends former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume's funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

Patricia Hume, center, with her with her son John Hume and daughter Mo arrive to attend her husband John Hume the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner, funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland attends the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume's funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. O'Neill is wearing a mask due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

The coffin of the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume is carried from funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral, pall bearers include his son John Hume, front center, with other family members in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

The coffin of the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume is carried from funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral, pall bearers include his son John Hume, front center, with other family members in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

Patricia Hume, left, and her daughter Mo follow the coffin of the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume as it is carried from funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

Patricia Hume, second right, and her daughter Mo follow the coffin of the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume as it is carried from funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

The funeral cortege of the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume passes through the streets as people bow their heads following the funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

The funeral cortege of the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume passes through the streets as people bow their heads following the funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

The funeral cortege of the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume passes through the streets as people bow their heads following the funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

Mourners watch as the funeral cortege of the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume departs following funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

Mourners including the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, applauds as the funeral cortege of the the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume leaves following the funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

Mourners including the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, left, applaud as the funeral cortege of the the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume leaves following the funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Masks are worn due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak . (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)

The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins looks towards the media following the former Northern Ireland lawmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume's funeral Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Northern Ireland lawmaker David Trimble, for his work in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Higgins is wearing a mask due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. (AP PhotoPeter Morrison)