McAdoo, Henry Robert (1916–98), Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin, was born 10 January 1916 in Cork city, eldest child of James Arthur McAdoo and Susan McAdoo (née Good). He had a distinguished academic career at TCD (foundation scholarship 1936, moderatorship (BA) with gold medal 1938, Ph.D. 1940, DD 1949). He was successively appointed dean of Cork (1952), bishop of Ossory, Ferns, and Leighlin (1962), and archbishop of Dublin and bishop of Glendalough (1997). McAdoo was a member of the joint preparatory commission of the Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) from 1967, becoming the anglican co-chairman in 1969, a position he held until 1981. ARCIC laid the foundations for a new approach to Anglican–Roman Catholic ecumenical relations, and he gave himself unstintingly to the task, which brought him little gratitude in parts of his own church but earned him the Canterbury Cross for services to the anglican communion. In later life he expressed disappointment that building on the pioneering work of ARCIC and its successor ARCIC II had been so slow. Fr Michael Hurley, SJ, has claimed that ARCIC's First report (1981) was ‘the greatest of Bishop McAdoo's many great achievements’, crediting him and his Roman Catholic co-chairman, Bishop Christopher Butler, with an ecumenical breakthrough in emphasising that church union was to be achieved, not by acceptance of an elaborate plan, but by ‘stage by stage’ reconciliation and convergence.
His writing (like his lecturing and preaching) was crystal clear, somewhat didactic yet entertaining. His strong pastoral instincts were exemplified by such slim publications as No new church (Dublin, 1946), in which he sought to build up the confidence of the members of the Church of Ireland by an examination of their place in the newly emergent independent Ireland. Likewise, Where do anglicans stand? (Dublin, 1970) and Being an anglican (London and Dublin, 1977) were expositions of the anglican method of studying theology, as he saw it, endeavouring to prepare anglicans (and most particularly members of his own church) for ecumenical dialogue by equipping them with a sound understanding of their faith.
The full weight of his scholarship, rooted in the writings of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century anglican divines, was shown in such of his major titles as The structure of Caroline moral theology (London, 1949), The spirit of anglicanism (London and New York, 1965), and The eucharistic theology of Jeremy Taylor today (Norwich, 1988). His last book was Anglicanism and tradition and the ordination of women (1997). His profound interest in the theology of Jeremy Taylor (qv) and his contemporaries convinced him that it had much to contribute to modern anglican theology and inter-church dialogue, both of which he strove to elucidate for the general reader and the scholar, and his academic achievements were recognised by the award of an honorary degree by Seabury-Western College in the US (1962) and by election to an honorary fellowship of TCD (1990). Nor did his academic and international commitments render him neglectful of his diocesan obligations in either Ossory or Dublin. A firm believer in the denominational school system (at least in the Irish context), he had particular concern for schools and their teachers. He never hesitated to press government on the church's educational needs, and his credibility was the stronger because he supported, sometimes in the face of criticism, state policies for the rationalisation of the school system, judging this to be in the interests of the children and the church. His appreciation and use of the Irish language also stood him in good stead in official circles, though an early interest and competence in Celtic studies fell by the wayside. It is likely that he remained archbishop of Dublin, rather than proceeding to Armagh, because he recognised that his theological and political outlooks were more acceptable in the southern province of the church. He retired in 1985 and died in Dublin on 10 December 1998. He married (1940) Lesley Dalziel Weir, of Co. Dublin; they had one son and two daughters. A portrait (1985) by Andrew Festing is in Christ Church cathedral, Dublin.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).