Edward Cassidy

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Edward Cassidy

President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Cassidy, 11 December 1984
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed12 December 1989
Term ended3 March 2001
PredecessorJohannes Willebrands
SuccessorWalter Kasper
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest 'pro hac vice' of Santa Maria in Via Lata (2002–2021)
Ordination23 July 1949
by Norman Thomas Gilroy
Consecration15 November 1970
by Jean-Marie Villot
Created cardinal28 June 1991
by Pope John Paul II
RankCardinal-Deacon (1991–2002)
Cardinal-Priest (2002–2021)
Personal details
Edward Idris Cassidy

(1924-07-05)5 July 1924
Died10 April 2021(2021-04-10) (aged 96)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Previous post(s)Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to China (1970–79)
Titular Archbishop of Amantia (1970–1991)
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Bangladesh (1973–79)
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Lesotho (1979–1984)
Apostolic Delegate to Southern Africa (1979–1984)
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the Netherlands (1984–88)
Substitute for General Affairs (1988–89)
President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews (1989–2001)
Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Via Lata (1991–2002)
Alma materPontifical Lateran University
Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy
MottoFortitudo mea Dominus
Coat of armsEdward Cassidy's coat of arms
Styles of
Edward Idris Cassidy
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeAmantia (titular see)

Edward Idris Cassidy AC (5 July 1924 – 10 April 2021) was an Australian prelate of the Catholic Church who was president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from 1989 to 2001. He headed the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews. He spent most of his career in the diplomatic service of the Holy See both in Rome and overseas. He was made a cardinal in 1991.

Early life[edit]

Cassidy was born in Sydney on 5 July 1924. His parents were not Catholic and divorced while he was just one.[1] When he was a student at Parramatta High School, a priest from St Felix's parish discouraged Cassidy from becoming a priest because he had not finished his secondary education, had not studied in Catholic schools and his family background was "unsuitable". Due to financial difficulties after his grandfather died, he left school to support his grandmother in 1939 and worked at the New South Wales Department of Road Transport as a junior clerk. In 1942, he presented his case for entering the seminary directly to Archbishop Norman Gilroy of Sydney, who accepted his arguments. Cassidy entered the local seminary, St Columba's Catholic College in Springwood, in February 1943.

Cassidy was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney on 23 July 1949 at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney,[2] by Cardinal Gilroy. Edward Bede Clancy, like Cassidy a future cardinal, 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[edit]

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 counsellor 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.[2] He was consecrated on 15 November by Cardinal Jean-Marie Villot assisted by Archbishops Giovanni Benelli and Matthew Beovich, representing Cardinal Sergio Pignedoli.[3] On 31 January 1973 he was named Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Bangladesh.[4] On 25 March 1979, Pope John Paul II appointed him Apostolic Delegate to Southern Africa and Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Lesotho.[5] His term as Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to China ended in April 1979; he was the last to hold that title. On 6 November 1984, he was appointed Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the Netherlands.[6]

Roman Curia[edit]

On 30 May 1988 he was appointed Substitute of the Secretariat of State in the Roman Curia.[7] After only a year he was appointed 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.[8] On 26 February 2002 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 a landmark achievement for ecumenism in bridging the centuries-long divide between Catholics and Lutherans.[1] Reflecting on his involvement, Cassidy joked that signing it would be the one thing he could confidently cite on his behalf on judgement day.[9]


When he retired in 2001, he returned to his native Australia, where he substituted for local priests on occasion and served as chaplain to the Italian-speaking community of Newcastle.[1]

His book titled Rediscovering Vatican II – Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, was published 2005[10] 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.[citation needed]

Cassidy died in Newcastle, Australia, on 10 April 2021 at the age of 96.[11]


In 1990, Cassidy was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in "recognition of service to the [sic] religion and to international affairs".[12]

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."[13]


  1. ^ a b c Lamb, Christopher (13 April 2021). "Cardinal Edward Cassidy – the quiet achiever". The Tablet. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Cassidy Card. Edward Idris". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  3. ^ "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church Biographical Dictionary John Paul II (1978-2005) Consistory of June 28, 1991 (V)". fiu.edu. Archived from the original on 5 January 2020. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  4. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXV. 1973. p. 111. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  5. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXI. 1979. p. 385. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  6. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXVI. 1984. p. 1094. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Australian One of Two New Vatican Aides". The New York Times. 31 May 1988. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy". catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  9. ^ ""Joint Declaration" is a 'peace document'". Lutheran World Information. 29 October 1999. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  10. ^ Cassidy, Edward Idris (2005). Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue: Unitatis Redintegratio, Nostra Aetate. Paulist Press. ISBN 9780809143382.
  11. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (10 April 2021). "Australian Cardinal Edward Cassidy, Vatican official and diplomat, dies at 96". Catholic News Agency. Archived from the original on 10 April 2021. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  12. ^ "CASSIDY, Edward Idris". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 11 June 1990. Archived from the original on 29 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Mormons give interfaith award to Cardinal Cassidy". Catholic News. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2012.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to China
27 October 1970 – 25 March 1979
Office abolished
Nunciature created Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Bangladesh
31 January 1973 – 25 March 1979
Succeeded by
Preceded by Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Lesotho
25 March 1979 – 6 November 1984
Succeeded by
Apostolic Delegate to Southern Africa
25 March 1979 – 6 November 1984
Preceded by Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the Netherlands
6 November 1984 – 23 March 1988
Succeeded by
Catholic Church titles
Titular see created — TITULAR —
Titular Archbishop of Amantia
27 October 1970 – 28 June 1991
Succeeded by
Johannes Liku Ada'
Preceded by President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
12 December 1989 – 3 March 2001
Succeeded by
Office created President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews
12 December 1989 – 3 March 2001
Preceded by Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Via Lata
28 June 1991 – 26 February 2002
Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Via Lata
26 February 2002 – 10 April 2021
Political offices
Preceded by Substitute for General Affairs
23 March 1988 – 12 December 1989
Succeeded by