THE LEADER of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Thomas Winning, died yesterday after having a heart attack at his Glasgow home. He was 76.
Cardinal Winning courted controversy in recent years with outspoken comments on abortion, homosexuality and married priests.
He had been discharged from the city's Victoria Infirmary on Friday after being admitted on 8 June because of an earlier heart attack.
He had just eaten breakfast when his housekeeper found him unconscious on his bedroom floor. Despite efforts to resuscitate him at home and later at Victoria Infirmary, he was pronounced dead just before 10am.
Tributes were led by the Prime Minister and Scotland's First Minister, Henry McLeish, both of whose administrations had been frequently criticised by Cardinal Winning's famously sharp tongue.
Tony Blair said: "His strong moral leadership and commitment to social justice were renowned."
Mr McLeish said: "The nation will miss Tom Winning. I will miss him. Scotland has lost one of her greatest sons."
Praised as a "man of the people" by Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Winning's world view often reflected that of many in his flock.
A hard upbringing in Scotland's industrial central belt fashioned a left- of-centre political outlook, which included support for asylum-seekers and a call for a more radical social policy.
But this contrasted with a deep conservatism on matters to do with the Church and personal morality - he once called homosexual acts "a perversion".
Though he campaigned for a Scottish Parliament, the Cardinal became more outspoken on what he regarded as the politically correct agenda of the Labour-Liberal Democrat Executive at Holyrood. With the majority of Scotland's Catholics paying tribal allegiance to Labour, his trenchant views made him feared in the Scottish Parliament.
It was his opposition to the repeal of Section 28, the law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools, that brought him into open conflict with the Government. It led him to form an unlikely alliance with Brian Souter, an evangelical protestant and Stagecoach tycoon.
His opposition to abortion was equally vehement and in 1997 he accused Tony Blair of gagging Labour MPs opposed to abortion.
He was thrust into the political limelight once again later that year when he set up a controversial scheme under which women were offered counselling and financial support if they agreed not to terminate their pregnancies. …