Early life and ordination:
Clancy was born in Lithgow, New South Wales on 13 December 1923. He has stated that he wanted to be a priest from an early age and that he celebrated his first Mass while still a child, to the amusement of his brother and sisters. After completing his studies at Marist Brothers College, Parramatta, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1949, the same year as Australian Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy.
Priest and bishop:
Clancy continued his education, eventually earning his doctorate in theology in 1965. He then started as a teacher and later accepting the position of chaplain at the University of Sydney. He also served as the official spokesperson for the archdiocese at this time and became very well known on that basis.
On 19 January 1974, he was ordained titular Bishop of Árd Carna and Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney.
Archbishop and cardinal:
On 24 November 1978, he was appointed Archbishop of Canberra (and Goulburn). In the little over four years that he was Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Clancy was respected by the people of Canberra Goulburn as a very friendly and approachable archbishop who was also very supportive of his people and his priests. He had a great rapport with young people in the archdiocese.
On 12 February 1983 he was appointed Archbishop of Sydney and on 28 June 1988 he was elevated to Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Vallicella. He also continued his education career throughout this time, becoming the Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University in 1992.
Major work on St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney took place under his episcopacy. In 1999 a substantial new pipe organ was built by Orgues Létourneau Ltée of Montreal, Québec.In the year 2000 the spires of the cathedral were finally completed.
During his term as archbishop the neo-Gothic diocesan seminary of St Patrick's at Manly (founded by Cardinal Patrick Moran in 1889) was closed and the heritage listed building leased to an international hospitality school. A new seminary, the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, was opened in the inner-western Sydney suburb of Homebush.
Cardinal Clancy was a Fellow of Warrane College UNSW.
Main article: Sexual abuse scandal in Canberra and Goulburn archdiocese
His tenure was not without controversy because of allegations surrounding the abuse scandal within his diocese.
Retirement and Death:
Cardinal Clancy retired as Archbishop of Sydney in 2001, and was succeeded by Archbishop George Pell. In the period from 21 October 2003 (when Pell was made cardinal) until Clancy's own 80th birthday on 13 December 2003, there were three Australian cardinal electors (had a papal conclave become necessary); Clancy, Pell and Edward Cassidy.
His health began to decline after his retirement and he died on 3 August 2014, aged 90, in the Little Sisters of the Poor nursing home in the Sydney suburb of Randwick.