James Darcy Freeman

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James Freeman
6th Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
ChurchSt Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
In office9 July 1971 (1971-07-09) – 12 February 1983 (1983-02-12)
PredecessorNorman Thomas Gilroy
SuccessorEdward Bede Clancy
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Santa Maria Regina Pacis in Ostia mare
Ordination13 July 1930 (1930-07-13)
by Archbishop Bartolomeo Cattaneo
Consecration9 December 1956 (1956-12-09)
by Norman Thomas Cardinal Gilroy
Created cardinal5 March 1973 (1973-03-05)
by Paul VI
Personal details
Birth nameJames Darcy Freeman
Born(1907-11-19)19 November 1907
Annandale, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died16 March 1991(1991-03-16) (aged 83)
Lewisham, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
BuriedCrypt of St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
DenominationRoman Catholic
Alma mater
MottoPer ipsum ipsa duce
With Him, under her leadership[1]
Styles of
James Freeman
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Sir James Darcy Freeman KBE (19 November 1907 – 16 March 1991) was an Australian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. Freeman was the sixth Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney and Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria Regina Pacis in Ostia. He was ordained a priest of the Sydney archdiocese on 13 July 1930, appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney on 9 December 1956 and ordained Titular Bishop of Hermopolis. In 1973 he was elevated to the cardinalate.

Early life and priesthood[edit]

Freeman was born on 19 November 1907 in Annandale, to Robert Freeman, a tramway driver and his wife Margaret Smith. He was educated at the Sisters of Charity, Elizabeth Bay, and the St Mary's Cathedral College, Sydney where he was regarded as a good student who enjoyed literature, music and sport.[citation needed]

He attended seminary at St Columba's Springwood and St Patrick's Seminary Manly; and furthered his studies at the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda Fide, Rome.[1] He was ordained on 13 July 1930 by Archbishop Bartolomeo Cattaneo and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Sydney.[2]

He served as an assistant priest in Grafton, Murwillumbah, Strathfield, Mosman and at St Mary's Cathedral. From 1941 - 1946 he became the private secretary to the archbishop and chaplain to the Christian Brothers College of St Patrick's College, Strathfield. He also served as administrator of Haymarket parish and parish priest of Stanmore.[citation needed]


Freeman was elected in partibus infidelium as Bishop of Hermopolis and auxiliary of Sydney on 9 December 1956. He was consecrated on 24 January 1957 at St Mary's Cathedral by Cardinal Norman Gilroy and spent twelve years as a loyal auxiliary to the man he has served as secretary. In October 1969 he was appointed Bishop of Armidale.

It came as no surprise to many within and without the church[citation needed] that on the retirement of Norman Thomas Gilroy in July 1971, Freeman's appointment as Archbishop of Sydney was announced.

Cardinalate and character[edit]

On 5 March 1973 Freeman was appointed Cardinal Priest of the Title of Our Lady of Peace of Ostia by Pope Paul VI. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1977.[3]

In May 2016, to mark the 25th anniversary of his death, his former secretary, Peter Ingham preached at an anniversary Mass, recalling "the widespread honour, affection and respect with which he was held in the communities where he was known." He further recalled that he sometimes called him "'the reluctant cardinal' – he never sought honours yet they came to him anyway."[4]

Retirement and death[edit]

Freeman retired as Archbishop of Sydney on 12 February 1983, to St John Vianney Villa, Randwick. He died on 16 March 1991 at Lewisham Hospital, at the age of 83 and was buried in the crypt of St Mary's Cathedral.[1]


Freeman is the Patron of the Freeman Catholic College at Bonnyrigg Heights, which opened in 1985 and has a student population of 1,220 and a teaching and support staff of 114. In 1987, the Cardinal Freeman Centre was established at Granville as part of the St Vincent de Paul Society to provide accommodation and support for the homeless men in the western suburbs of Sydney who have been affected by drug- and alcohol-related problems. The Cardinal Freeman Village in Ashfield is a retirement home providing accommodation to 380 people.


  1. ^ a b c Cullen, Michael P. (2014). "Freeman, Sir James Darcy (Jimmy) (1907–1991)" (published online 2014). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  2. ^ Cheney, David M. (28 April 2018). "James Darcy Cardinal Freeman". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  3. ^ "FREEMAN, James Darcy: The Order of the British Empire - Knights Commander (Civil) (Imperial)". It's an Honour. Government of Australia. 11 June 1977. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  4. ^ Ingham, Peter (18 May 2016). "Remembering Cardinal James Freeman". The Catholic Weekly. Retrieved 13 August 2018.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Edward Doody
6th Catholic Bishop of Armidale
Succeeded by
Henry Kennedy
Preceded by
Norman Thomas Gilroy
6th Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
Succeeded by
Edward Bede Clancy