Biography

Rosemary Goldie AO (1 February 1916 – 27 February 2010) was an Australian Catholic theologian.

Goldie was the first woman to serve in an executive role in the Roman Curia; she was undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 1967 until 1976. She also served as an auditor during the Second Vatican Council.

Rosemary Goldie was born in Manly, New South Wales and raised by her maternal grandmother. She attended high school at Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta, and later studied arts at the University of Sydney.

Aged 20, she was the first Australian Catholic woman to win a French Government Scholarship enabling her to study for two years at the Sorbonne, Paris from 1936-1938. This coincided with the international rise of ‘Catholic Action’; she joined the Catholic women’s groups Veritas and The Grail as well as Pax Romana.

These became lifelong associations involving many visits to Rome and friendships within the Vatican including a number of Popes. On her return to Sydney in 1938, Goldie taught briefly and completed her Master of Arts at the University of Sydney where she became head of the Grail Group.

She worked to found the University Catholic Federation of Australia, which soon became affiliated with the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS), also known as Pax Romana.

In 1944 she won a fellowship with the International Federation of University Women to complete her doctorate in Paris. She attended Pax Romana and Grail conferences in England and, instead of completing her degree, spent the next six years working for Pax Romana. Goldie was part of its delegation to the inaugural UNESCO Conference.

1950 saw the first post-war gathering of Catholics as the internationalisation of the church gathered momentum. Responding to Pius XI’s call to Catholic Action, Goldie was deeply concerned about the role of the people within the Catholic Church as well as the Church’s role in the world.

After being recruited to work for the Permanent Committee for International Congresses of the Lay Apostolate (COPECIAL), she took up residence in Rome in October 1952. She was appointed one of the first two women auditors at the Second Vatican Council 1962-1965.

Then in 1967 she was promoted to undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the first woman appointed to the Papal Curia, which was the highest office ever given to a woman in the Vatican.

In 1976, she was appointed as a professor in pastoral theology at the Pontifical Lateran University.

Goldie served under four popes: Paul VI, who described her as “our co-worker”; John XXIII, who described her as la piccinina (“the little one”); the short-lived John Paul I; and John Paul II who visited her in her Vatican office and who received a copy of her autobiography. She knew Benedict XVI during her days in Rome and he visited her in her nursing home in 2008 on the occasion of World Youth Day 2008.

She edited, and wrote an afterword to, the biography of her mother, writer Dulcie Deamer, The Queen of Bohemia (1998, ISBN 0-7022-2726-9) and an autobiography, From a Roman Window (1998, ISBN 1-86371-697-1), about the time of her work for the Vatican.

She also provided the English translation of Il Cantico dell’uomo by Franco Biffi about Pietro Cardinal Pavan as Prophet of Our Times – The Social Thought of Cardinal Pietro Pavan (1992, ISBN 1-56548-010-4).

SOURCES AND REFERENCES

Goldie, Rosemary (Encylopaedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia)

Edmund Campion, Rosemary Goldie (Obituaries Australia)

Rosemary Goldie (Wikipedia)

Rosemary Goldie, Australian Pioneer

Jordan Grantham, Rosemary Goldie, the Parramatta Girl in the Vatican (Catholic Outlook)