Vale, Rosemary Goldie, first woman official at the Vatican

posted 4 Mar 2010, 01:24 by Stefan Gigacz   [ updated 4 Apr 2010, 05:10 ]

Rosemary Goldie, the first woman to hold an official post of authority in the Roman Curia has died in Sydney, Australia aged 94.

Rosemary, an Australian who took on a special place in Church history with her appointment in 1966 as Under-Secretary of the Council for the Laity, died at the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Randwick in Sydney’s east, on Saturday, aged 94, an Australian Catholic Bishops Conference statement said.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President, Archbishop Phillip Wilson said Rosemary had made a tremendous contribution to the life of the church.

“At a time when lay people and particularly lay women might have struggled to find a voice in Church affairs, Rosemary Goldie was making history by being the first woman appointed as a Vatican curial official,” he said.

“Her commitment to the lay apostolate was a life-long passion and her achievements helped pave the way for current generations.

“I offer my prayers for the repose of Rosemary’s soul and for all those who knew and loved her at this sad time.”

Once described as “the Roman Curia’s human microchip memory on the development of the lay apostolate”, Rosemary was also one of the few women appointed as an auditor to the Second Vatican Council, the bishops’ statement said.

One of four children of Sydney journalists, Goldie was raised by her maternal grandmother and graduated from Sydney University in 1936. For the next two years she continued her studies at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Goldie was invited to join the Permanent Committee for International Congresses of the Lay Apostolate (COPECIAL) set up in Rome by Pius XII in 1952. In 1959 she became Executive Secretary of the Committee. During this period, she worked closely with lay leaders and priests from many movements, including then-Monsignor Joseph Cardijn.

This body was the nucleus of the Council for the Laity, created by Pope Paul VI as a result of Vatican II.

Rosemary Goldie was also a founder in Australia of the Catholic students movement now known as the International Catholic Movement of Students. Goldie also worked for the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, known as Pax Romana, at the mo. She was also a member of the Grail.

Pax Romana

Rosemary Goldie was born in Australia in 1916. At the age of 20, after graduation in her homeland, she came to Paris to study at the Sorbonne University. She took part in the activities of the women-student chaplaincy, which was affiliated to Pax Romana, Fr Antoine Sondag, former ICMICA chaplain writes. 

In 1937, the Pax Romana International Congress was held in Paris and she attended it. The theme was: the formation of the student. In 1938, the international Congress was held in Vaduz (Lichtenstein, a little Duchy between Switzerland and Austria), and Rosemary Goldie was so much part of the Pax Romana family that she participated in that event as delegate of France since no other women-student was available !

During the Second World War (1939-1945) the Australian student movement affiliated to Pax Romana through the international office, which was at that time located in Washington DC.

And as Rosemary Goldie came back to Europe after war, she participated in the “founding meetings” 1946-1947 which saw, under the umbrella title Pax Romana, the creation of the student movement (IMCS) and the professional-intellectual movement (ICMICA).

In the new ICMICA secretariat located in Fribourg (Switzerland), an English-speaking staff member was badly needed. So Rosemary accepted this task under the guidance of the newly elected general secretary Ramon Sugranyes de Franch. She spent six years there.

She was active in the “historical” Pax Romana meetings: general assembly in Amsterdam with a message from Pope Pius XII (“Be everywhere present in the vanguard of the intellectual combat…”), pilgrimage to Rome for the Holy Year 1950 (5000 intellectuals from all over the world)…

As Pax Romana cooperated fully with the Holy See to prepare the first Congress of the Lay Apostolate, organized on the initiative of Vittorino Veronese, president or Italian Catholic Action and Vice-president of ICMICA, Rosemary Goldie became involved in the COPECIAL: the secretariat, in Rome, which had the duty to prepare the three Congresses for the Lay Apostolate in 1951, 57 and 67, and which would give birth to the Pontifical Council for the Laity. 

"She never gave up her collaboration with Pax Romana after 1951, when she moved to Rome, but did it in a renewed way," Fr Sondag writes.

"She is and remains a symbol of Pax Romana, of Pax Romana’s contribution to the evangelization and of the contribution of Vatican Council to the Church: the role of laity, of women in Church and society, of intellectuals (graduates), the evangelization of culture, the presence of non Europeans in the governing body of the Church: today, we would say, the diversity and plurality of cultures within the Church."

SOURCE: First Vatican woman official dead at 94   (CathNews Asia)

Rosemary Goldie (1916-2010) (Catholic Weekly)