Cardinal Edward Clancy, the former Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has died at the age of 90 after several years of ill health.

The former Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal Edward Clancy has died at the age of 90 after years of ill health.

Cardinal Clancy, the city’s seventh Archbishop, died early on Sunday at the Little Sisters of the Poor nursing home at Randwick.

He had been receiving care there for the past eight years.

Bishop Peter Comensoli, the Archdiocese of Sydney Apostolic Administrator, said the news caused “great sadness.”

“He was a great churchman and a true leader with total dedication to his vocation,” he said in a statement.

“Cardinal Clancy made many contributions to the Australian Church and especially here in Sydney during a lifetime of service.”

Cardinal Clancy was born in December 1923 at Lithgow, to school teacher John Bede Clancy and Ellen Lucy Edwards.

He was ordained as a priest in July 1949 by Cardinal Norman Gilroy after beginning his religious studies at 16.

Former Archbishop of Melbourne George Pell, now a senior Vatican official, succeeded Cardinal Clancy as the head of the Sydney church upon his retirement in March 2001.

Father Brian Lucas, secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, served under Cardinal Clancy as the Sydney archdiocese secretary from 1990 to 2001.

Cardinal Clancy’s death was obviously a great sadness, Fr Lucas said, but it was also a “blessed relief” following many years of suffering.

“He will be remembered not only by decisions such as the creation of the dioceses of Broken Bay and Parramatta but for his strong leadership in the beatification and eventual canonisation of Mary MacKillop (Australia’s first saint),” he said.

Fr Lucas also paid tribute to Cardinal Clancy’s “even-handedness and his dealing with the questions of politic”.

Father Frank Brennan remembered Cardinal Clancy as a candid man, “a fine church leader (and) a gentleman”

“He was not afraid to just get out there and state it as he saw it, no gilding of the lily, no special pleading, just decent, down to earth advocacy for justice, and supportive when there was a need to be,” he posted on social media.

Wollongong Bishop Peter Ingham, who worked under Cardinal Clancy for seven years, said he remembered a “prayerful, dedicated, humble and hard working archbishop.”

“A man of integrity, who was determined, even-handed, and who discharged his responsibilities conscientiously, in fact with an overwhelming sense of duty,” he told AAP in a statement.