Woman Goldie, Rosemary

Feminist, Professor and Theologian

Written by Ruth Lee, Australian Catholic University

Rosemary Goldie was born in Manly, Sydney in 1916 to Dulcie Deamer, journalist, and Albert Goldie, a publicity manager for the J.C. Williamson Theatre Company. She was the youngest of four surviving children and the only daughter. Ostensibly because her parents were travelling for 10 years, Goldie was raised by her grandmother, Mabel Deamer, although she hinted that her mother was not maternal and absent for much of her life. After attending Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta, she proceeded to Sydney University where she joined the Newman Society and the University Catholic group, before graduating in 1936 with a University Medal and honours in French and English.

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.

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. In 1946 Pope Pius XII declared 'the laity also are Church' (Deamer, 1998, p. 16) signalling the Catholic Church's focus on lay people, a cause Goldie passionately promoted.

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.

After 10 years, however, her position was taken over by a priest and she took up a professorship in pastoral theology at the Pontifical Lateran University. 'Her style was to encourage variety in world Catholicism; she was a church leader who did not think that one size should fit all' (Campion, Sydney Morning Herald , 7 April 2010). She was tenacious and had a wealth of theological understanding, which was recognised in 1990 when she was awarded the Order of Australia medal for her commitment to ecumenical relations. Goldie translated a number of theological texts and was an historian of the Vatican, recording her 50 years of observations in From a Roman Window: Five Decades: the World, the Church and the Catholic Laity in 1998. She also edited and published her mother's autobiography in the same year.

Returning to Sydney in 2002, she took up residence with the Little Sisters of the Poor and continued to serve the Holy See from a distance as a consultant to the Council for the Laity. Her last visit to Rome was in 2002, to attend an Assembly of the Laity Council. She also addressed many audiences in Australia where she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Australian Catholic University. She died in Sydney in 2010.

Published Resources


  • Deamer, Dulcie, The Queen of Bohemia: The Autobiography of Dulcie Deamer, University of Queensland Press (UQP), St Lucia, Queensland, 1998. Details
  • Goldie, Rosemary, Vers un héroisme intégral dans la lignée de Péguy, Type text or a website address or translate a document. Cancel Example usage of "": automatically translated by Google English Spanish Arabic Alpha Foreword by Albert Béguin., Editions de l'Amitié, Paris, France, 1951. Details
  • Goldie, Rosemary, Laici, laicato, laicità bilancio di trent'anni di bibliografia, Italian text, AVE, Rome, Italy, 1986. Details
  • Goldie, Rosemary, From a Roman Window- Five Decades: the World, the Church and the Catholic Laity, Harper Collins Religious, Melbourne, Victoria, 1998. Details

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