James Knox

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James Knox

President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
Installed4 August 1981[1]
Term ended26 June 1983[1]
PredecessorOpilio Rossi
SuccessorEdouard Gagnon
Other post(s)5th Archbishop of Melbourne (1967–1974);
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (1974–1983)
Ordination22 December 1941[1]
by Pietro Fumasoni Biondi
Consecration8 November 1953[1]
by Celso Benigno Luigi Costantini
Created cardinal5 March 1973[1]
by Pope Paul VI
RankSanta Maria in Vallicella
Personal details
Birth nameJames Robert Knox
Born(1914-05-02)2 May 1914
Bayswater, Western Australia, Australia
Died26 June 1983(1983-06-26) (aged 69)
Rome, Italy
BuriedSt Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
DenominationRoman Catholic
Alma materPontifical Urbanian Athenaeum
MottoSicut dilexi vos
Styles of
James Knox
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeMelitene (titular see)

James Robert Knox GCC (2 March 1914 – 26 June 1983) was an Australian Roman Catholic cardinal. He was the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family (1981–1983), a prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (1974 and 1983) and the fifth Archbishop of Melbourne, serving from 1967 to 1974.

Early years[edit]

Knox was born in Bayswater, Western Australia. He was a son of Irish–born John Knox and his wife Alice Emily, née Walsh. Attending Catholic schools in Perth, Knox applied to the archdiocese to study for the priesthood, but was rejected because it was cheaper to recruit and educate priests in Ireland. He successfully applied to become a priest at the Benedictine Territorial Abbey of New Norcia and completed his secondary schooling at St Ildephonsus' College before entering the seminary in 1936. By September that year, he transferred to the Pontifical Urbanian Athenaeum in Rome.[2]

Ordained priest on 22 December 1941,[1] he pursued postgraduate studies, obtaining doctorates in theology (1944) and canon law (1949). Unable to return to Australia during World War II, he had been assigned to Propaganda College staff, becoming a vice-rector in 1945. He served as a staff member of the Vatican Secretariat of State from 1948 until 1950. He was also a staff member of Vatican Radio for a year between 1949 and 1950 and appointed to the rank of monsignor on 22 July 1950. He was Secretary to the Apostolic Delegate in Japan from 1950 until 1953.


Pius XII appointed him Titular Archbishop of Melitene and apostolic delegate in British Africa on 20 July 1953. He was consecrated in November that year in Rome by Cardinal Celso Costantini. He was Internuncio in India and apostolic delegate in Burma and Ceylon from 1957 where he was involved with the expansion of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. He attended the Second Vatican Council in Rome.[2]

On 13 April 1967, with no direct pastoral experience,[2] Knox was appointed as the fifth Archbishop of Melbourne.[1] Following decrees of the Second Vatican Council, in 1970 Knox approved the extension of St Patrick's Cathedral's sanctuary into the transept crossing to provide the space required for the reformed liturgical rites. The new sanctuary worked admirably for the many ceremonies of the 40th International Eucharistic Congress held in Melbourne in February 1973. Knox reorganised the structure of the archdiocese, establishing four regions headed by auxiliary bishops, the creation of 12 archdiocesan departments headed by episcopal vicars as well as the establishment of a Senate of Priests and other advisory bodies. During his episcopacy as archbishop, Knox was also instrumental in the creation of the Melbourne College of Divinity and later, some of the constituent parts which became the Australian Catholic University.[2][3]


On 5 March 1973, Paul VI named Knox Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Vallicella.[1] In early 1974, Knox was appointed prefect of both the Congregations for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and took up his appointment in March of that year in Rome. On 1 July 1974 his resignation of the pastoral episcopacy of Melbourne was accepted. By 1975 Knox had merged both congregations. He was appointed in 1973 as president of the Permanent Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.[2] In 1978, he took part in the August and October conclaves which elected both John Paul I and John Paul II respectively. In 1981, John Paul II appointed Knox as the inaugural president of the reconstituted Pontifical Council for the Family, replacing the Pontifical Committee for the Family.[2]

In 1982 his health declined and in May 1983 he became seriously ill with a circulatory problem. He died, aged 69, on 26 June that year in Rome and was buried in the crypt of St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. A 1974 portrait of Knox by Melbourne artist Paul Fitzgerald is held by the cathedral.[2]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "James Robert Cardinal Knox". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 8 April 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Waters, Ian B. "Knox, James Robert (1914–1983)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  3. ^ Pell, Cardinal George (August 2004). "Catholic education: triumph over adversity". AD2000. 17 (7): 10. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Justin Simonds
5th Archbishop of Melbourne
13 April 1967 – 1 July 1974
Succeeded by
Frank Little
Preceded by
Paolo Giobbe
Cardinal–Priest of Santa Maria in Vallicella
5 March 1973 – 26 June 1983
Succeeded by
Edward Clancy
Preceded by
Martin Lucas
Apostolic Internuncio to India
14 Feb 1957 – 13 Apr 1967
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Caprio
Preceded by
Antonio Samoré
(as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments)
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum

1 August 1975 – 4 August 1981
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Casoria
Preceded by
Opilio Rossi
(as President of the Pontifical Committee for the Family)
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
4 August 1981 – 26 June 1983
Succeeded by
Edouard Gagnon