Edward Bede Clancy was born in Lithgow on 13 December 1923, the son of John Bede Clancy and Ellen Lucy Edwards. He was educated at Holy Camp Public School (Grenfell), St Monica's Primary School and Good Samaritan School, Richmond and Marist Brothers' College, Parramatta.
After studying for the priesthood at St Columba's College, Springwood, and St Patrick's College, Manly, he was ordained a priest in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, by Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy, then Archbishop of Sydney, on 23 July 1949. His first appointment was as assistant priest in Belmore in December 1949.
Sent to study in Rome in 1951, Fr Clancy graduated with a Licentiate in Theology (STL) from the Angelicum University and a Licentiate of Sacred Scripture (LSS) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Returning in 1955, he served as assistant priest at the parishes of Elizabeth Bay and Liverpool before taking up his appointment as Professor of Sacred Scripture at St Columba's College, Springwood in February 1958.
In 1961, he went abroad for further studies, obtaining his Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1965. On his return, he was appointed Chaplain at Sydney University and the Catholic Centre. He then joined the professorial staff at St Patrick's College, Manly teaching Sacred Scripture in the Faculty of Theology. He was also involved in pastoral work, particularly in giving conferences and spiritual retreats to priests and members of religious orders.
He was still at Manly when, on 15 November 1973, Pope Paul VI appointed him Titular Bishop of Ard Carna and auxiliary to Cardinal Freeman. His Episcopal Ordination took place in St Mary's Cathedral on 19 January 1974. He took charge of the outer western region, with headquarters at Blacktown, where he was also parish priest. At this time he was well known to the media as official spokesperson for the Archdiocese and also for the Australian Bishops' Conference.
On 24 November 1978, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Clancy to the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. A little over four years later, on 22 February 1983, Pope John Paul II announced Archbishop Clancy's appointment as seventh Archbishop of Sydney, in succession to retiring Cardinal Sir James Freeman.
His reception and installation as Archbishop of Sydney took place in St Mary's Cathedral on 27 April 1983. Cardinal Clancy was made a Member of the Order of Australia (OAM) on 1 January 1984 and Officer of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1992.
He was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals and received his red biretta, the traditional sign of his office, from Pope John Paul II at a Vatican consistory in Rome on 28 June 1988. His responsibilities have included being a member of the Council of Cardinals and Bishops; President of the Australian Bishops Conference, 1986-2000; Chancellor of Australian Catholic University, 1991. He was a member of the Congregation for Bishops; the Pontifical Commission for Pastoral Care for Health Workers; the Council of Synod of Bishops, Pontifical Commission for Social Communication; and the Council of Cardinals for the study of economic problems of the Holy See.
Other achievements include the renovation and completion of St Mary's Cathedral with the construction of the two spires and the overseeing of the transition from St Patrick's College, Manly to the new Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Homebush.
On 26 March 2001 Cardinal Clancy's resignation was accepted by Pope John
Paul II, having exceeded the age limit of 75 years, with his retirement from
office taking effect on 10 May 2001.
During his retirement, Cardinal Clancy wrote Come Back! - an appeal to lapsed Catholics to return to church practice.
Cardinal Edward Clancy's Crest
On the left hand side of the shield are the established arms of the Archdiocese of Sydney - the Southern Cross. On the right hand side are his own personal arms. The lions are taken from the crest of the Clancy family, and the circle and book represent the Host and the open Bible - symbolising the Word of Scripture and the Word of the Eucharist. The motto "Fides Mundum Vincit" translated from the Latin means "Faith conquers the World." (1 John 5, 4 )
The ideas were the Cardinal's own and were provided to a professional who presented them in their present form.