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Gordon Gray (cardinal)

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Gordon Gray
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See St. Andrews and Edinburgh

Gordon Joseph Gray (10 August 1910—19 July 1993) was a Scottish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh from 1951 to 1985, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1969. He was the first resident Scottish cardinal since the Restoration of the Scottish hierarchy in 1878 and, indeed, since the Reformation.

Early life

Gordon Gray was born in Leith to Frank and Angela (née Oddy) Gray. He was the youngest of three children, he had a sister, Josephine, and a brother, George. After attending Holy Cross Academy in Edinburgh, his uncle John Gray, a canon, suggested that he enter religion. Gordon then studied at St. Joseph's Junior College in East Sussex from 1927 to July 1929, and entered St. John's Seminary in Wonersh in September 1929.


He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Andrew McDonald, OSB, on June 15, 1935, and did pastoral work in the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh until 1947. Attending St. Andrews University from 1936 to 1939, Gray became the first Catholic priest to graduate there since the Reformation. In 1939 he entered St Mary's University College, Twickenham in London, but his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. He was later made rector of St. Mary's College in Aberdeen in 1947.

Episcopal career

On June 20, 1951, Gray was appointed Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh by Pope Pius XII. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 21 from Archbishop William Godfrey, with Bishops James Donald Scanlan and Edward Wilson Douglas serving as co-consecrators, in St. Mary's Cathedral. From 1962 to 1965, Gray attended the Second Vatican Council. Beginning in 1964, he discussed mixed marriages with the Church of Scotland.

Pope Paul VI created the Scottish primate Cardinal Priest of S. Chiara a Vigna Clara in the consistory of April 28, 1969, and therefore the first resident cardinal in Scotland since David Beaton, over four centuries earlier. In 1977 Gray became the first cardinal to address the Church of Scotland's General Assembly. He once served as President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, and was one of the cardinal electors in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II respectively. During John Paul II's 1982 visit to the United Kingdom, he officially welcomed the Pope upon his arrival in Scotland.

Gray was considered to be theologically conservative but moderate in his temperament, giving him an "effective international role in the life of the Church." He was a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and once chaired the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.

Later life

He retired as head of the St. Andrews and Edinburgh archdiocese on May 30, 1985, after thirty-three years of service. Gray was succeeded by Keith Michael O'Brien.

The Cardinal died from a heart ailment in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, at age 82. He is buried in the crypt of St. Mary's Cathedral.



  1. BBC. 1978: First "Test Tube Baby" Born

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Preceded by
Andrew McDonald
Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh
Succeeded by
Keith O'Brien
no:Gordon Joseph Gray

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