Edward Cassidy
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Edward Cassidy

Edward Cassidy

President Emeritus of the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Edward Idris Cassidy (1984).jpg
Edward Idris Cassidy (1984)
SeeTitular Bishop of Amantia
Installed26 February 2002
PredecessorWladyslaw Rubin
Other postsPresident of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (1989 – 2001);
Official of the Secretariat of State (1988 – 1989);
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Netherlands (1984 – 1988);
Apostolic Delegate to South Africa (1979 – 1984);
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Lesotho (1979);
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Bangladesh (1973 – 1979);
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to China (1970 – 1973)
Ordination23 July 1949 (Priest) in
St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney by Norman Thomas Gilroy
Consecration15 November 1970 (Bishop) by Jean-Marie Villot
Created cardinal28 June 1991 by John Paul II
RankCardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Via Lata
Personal details
Birth nameEdward Idris Cassidy
Born (1924-07-05) 5 July 1924 (age 95)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
DenominationRoman Catholic
Alma materPontifical Lateran University and Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Rome
Coat of armsEdward Cassidy's coat of arms
Styles of
Edward Idris Cassidy
Coat of arms of Edward Idris Cassidy.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeAmantia (titular see)

Edward Idris Cassidy AC (born 5 July 1924) is an Australian Roman Catholic cardinal priest. He is the President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He headed the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews. He was made a cardinal on 28 June 1991. He spent most of his career in the diplomatic service of the Holy See.

Early life

Cassidy was born in Sydney. During high school a priest from St. Felix's parish discouraged him from becoming a priest because he had not finished his secondary education, had not studied in Catholic schools and his family background was definitively "unsuitable", due to financial difficulties after his grandfather died in 1939. He worked at the New South Wales Department of Road Transport as a junior clerk, having to stop his schooling. In 1942, he went directly to Archbishop Norman Thomas Gilroy of Sydney to present his case for entering the priesthood; the Archbishop Gilroy agreed and he entered St. Columba's College (seminary), Springwood, in February 1943.

He was ordained a priest of the diocese of Sydney on 23 July 1949 in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, by Cardinal Gilroy. Father Edward Bede Clancy, was ordained at the same time. He volunteered to transfer to the Diocese of Wagga Wagga and in January 1950, he was assigned to the small parish of Yenda.

Diplomatic service

In 1952, Bishop Francis Henschke of Wagga Wagga asked him if he would like to go to Rome to study canon law; he agreed and left for Rome on 1 September 1952. While studying in Rome, he resided at Collegio Sant'Apollinare, next to Piazza Navona. He completed his education studying at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, where he obtained a doctorate in canon law in July 1955 with a dissertation on the history and juridical nature of apostolic delegations, and at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, also in Rome, from October 1953, where he obtained a diploma in diplomatic studies. After finishing his studies, he joined the Vatican diplomatic service in July 1955.

He served in the nunciatures in India, Ireland, and Portugal. He was appointed counselor of the apostolic delegation in the United States in June 1967, but as the nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Sensi, was then transferred to the nunciature in Portugal, had to stay in Dublin until the following November, when he was named instead counselor of the nunciature in El Salvador, where he remained until the end of 1969, becoming then counselor of the nunciature in Argentina.

On 27 October 1970 he was appointed titular bishop of Amantia and Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the Republic of China. He was consecrated on 15 November by Cardinal Jean-Marie Villot assisted by Archbishops Giovanni Benelli and Matthew Beovich, representing Cardinal Sergio Pignedoli. He later served as Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Bangladesh, and after that as Apostolic Delegate to Southern Africa and Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Lesotho. He served in Southern Africa until 6 November 1984, when he was appointed Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the Netherlands, where he served until 1988.

Roman Curia

On 30 May 1988 he was appointed Substitute of the Secretariat of State in the Roman Curia.[1] After only a year he was appointed as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In the consistory of 28 June 1991 Pope John Paul II created him Cardinal-Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata. On 26 February 2001 he took the option open to cardinal deacons to be elevated to the rank of cardinal priest after ten years as a cardinal deacon.

In 1999, Cassidy was jointly responsible for the publication of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, widely received as an ecumenical peace document. Reflecting on his involvement, Cassidy joked that signing it would be the one thing he could confidently cite on his behalf on judgement day.[2]

He retired in 2001 and returned to his native Australia. From 21 October 2003 (when George Pell was made cardinal) until Edward Bede Clancy's 80th birthday on 13 December, he was one of an unprecedented three Australian cardinal electors eligible to vote in a papal conclave. He lost the right to vote in a papal conclave on his 80th birthday on 5 July 2004.

His book titled Rediscovering Vatican II - Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, was published 2005 and marked the 40th anniversary of the Vatican's ecumenism declaration Nostra aetate. The book made a significant contribution to ongoing international inter-religious dialogue.


In 1990, Cassidy was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in "recognition of [his] service to (the) religion and to international affairs".[3]

In 2006, the LDS Church in Australia presented Cassidy with an award for his efforts to bring better understanding to the people of the world. Presenting the "John Simpson Standing for Something" award to Cassidy for his role in building interfaith relations across the world, Mormon Elder Paul Sybrowsky said that "Latter-day Saints have seen that Cardinal Cassidy is indeed a man filled with faith and courage to help make this a better world for all to live in." In a message of congratulations, Premier Morris Iemma (also a Catholic) said that "no Australian has risen to greater eminence in the Catholic Church, and none has been such a devoted servant of the cause of ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue."[4]


  1. ^ "Australian One of Two New Vatican Aides". New York Times. 31 May 1988. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ ""Joint Declaration" is a 'peace document'". Lutheran World Information. 29 October 1999. Archived from the original on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ "CASSIDY, Edward Idris". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 11 June 1990. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ "Mormons give interfaith award to Cardinal Cassidy". Catholic News. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 2012.

External links

Preceded by
Eduardo Martínez Somalo
Substitute for General Affairs
23 March 1988 - 12 December 1989
Succeeded by
Giovanni Battista Re
Preceded by
Johannes Willebrands
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
12 December 1989 - 3 March 2001
Succeeded by
Walter Kasper

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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