Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cardinal Dulles Recalled for Brilliance, Simplicity, Kindness

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Avery Dulles, a Jesuit theologian who was made a cardinal in 2001, was remembered by friends and admirers for his brilliant mind as well as for his "simplicity and sense of wonder."

Cardinal Dulles died Dec. 12; he was 90. An evening wake was scheduled for Dec. 16 and 17 at Fordham University Church, followed by the celebration of Mass each evening. A funeral Mass for the cardinal was scheduled for Dec. 18 at St. Patrick's Cathedral, followed by burial at the Jesuit Cemetery in Auriesville, N.Y.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired Washington archbishop, and a fellow member of the 2001 class of cardinals, described the Jesuit scholastic he first met 60 years ago as even then being "an imposing personality with his twang, his razor-sharp intellect and, perhaps more than anything else, his obviously profound dedication to his faith."

"He was one of the truly great American theologians, constantly renewing and deepening his commitment to the truth," said Cardinal McCarrick in one of many statements issued by church leaders, friends and colleagues after Cardinal Dulles' death.

From his early impressions of Cardinal Dulles as a young priest whose first Mass he helped organize, Cardinal McCarrick said his friend was "a holy man, totally without guile or pretense."

Pope Benedict XVI offered his condolences to the Jesuit community and Cardinal Dulles' friends and family. He remarked on the cardinal's "deep learning, serene judgment and unfailing love of the Lord and his church which marked his entire priestly ministry and his long years of teaching and theological research."

The pope said he prays that "his convincing personal testimony to the harmony of faith and reason will continue to bear fruit for the conversion of minds and hearts and the progress of the Gospel for many years to come."

Cardinal Dulles, the son of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and nephew of onetime CIA director Allen Walsh Dulles, was the grandson of a Presbyterian minister.

He joined the Catholic Church in 1941 while a student at Harvard Law School. He served in the Navy in World War II, then entered the Jesuits after his discharge in 1946. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1956.

Cardinal Dulles had been the Laurence J. McGinley professor of religion and society at Fordham since 1988. He also had taught in Washington at the former Woodstock College, now folded into Georgetown University, and The Catholic University of America. He had been a visiting professor at Catholic, Protestant and secular colleges and universities.

Prominent among his many writings was his groundbreaking 1974 book, "Models of the Church," in which he defined the church as institution, mystical communion, sacrament, herald, servant and community of disciples, and critiqued each model.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Cardinal Dulles' "wise counsel will be missed," and that "his personal witness to the pursuit of holiness of life as a priest, a Jesuit and a cardinal of the church will be remembered."

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said that Cardinal Dulles' elevation from priest to cardinal was a sign of the particular esteem in which he was held. One of the rare nonbishops to be appointed to the College of Cardinals, he was named a cardinal in recognition of his service to the church as a theologian.

"He presented an authentic Catholic theology that was deeply rooted in the church's intellectual heritage and the American experience of that tradition," Archbishop Wuerl said.

He added that he would cherish the opportunities he had to work with Cardinal Dulles, whom he described as "insightful and ever kind. He had a way of making complicated and sometimes opaque issues clear and intelligible. But he also always had time to listen to others who did not have his level of theological mastery and to welcome their contribution."

Some of his fellow Jesuits recalled Cardinal Dulles for his intellect and for more mundane human traits.

"Cardinal Dulles was man of tremendous intellectual rigor whose teaching and writing contributed greatly to the vibrancy of Catholic intellectual life," said Father Thomas H. Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference. "Yet for a man with so many gifts, he never viewed himself as anything more than a poor servant of Christ."

Jesuit Father Kevin Burke, president of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, Calif., said Cardinal Dulles was among the theologians who after the Second Vatican Council brought fresh approaches to ecclesiology, the study of the nature and functions of a church.

"In addition, he began to pay particular attention to the amazing burst of theological creativity among Jesuits that appeared around the time of the council," said Father Burke, according to a release from the Jesuits.

In an article written for the Jan. 5 issue of America magazine, Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen, editor-in-chief, quoted Cardinal Dulles looking back on his own career in "A Life in Theology," the April 2008 lecture at Fordham the cardinal described as his farewell address: "I do not particularly strive for originality. Very few new ideas, I suspect, are true. If I conceived a theological idea that had never occurred to anyone in the past, I would have every reason to think myself mistaken."

The cardinal thought tradition was essential to theological development, noted Father Christiansen.

"Developments of doctrine," the cardinal observed, "always involve a certain continuity; a reversal of course is not development."

Father Christiansen also gave some more personal perspectives about his fellow Jesuit, describing his transition to a small Jesuit community in 1970 after Woodstock College moved from the Maryland countryside to New York City.

"Raised in a household with servants and having lived his life in institutions (the Navy and the Jesuits), small community was his first experience of domesticity," Father Christiansen wrote. "He learned to sew -- he had to be taught several times -- to shop and to cook. His favorite entree: Shake 'n Bake chicken."

The America article said Cardinal Dulles' lanky figure was subject to loving caricature within the Jesuit community, including a portrayal of him as the Mad Hatter in a mural of "Alice in Wonderland" painted in the kitchen of the 102nd Street Jesuit community in New York.

"A photo of the Wonderland mural hung until the time of his death in his room at the Jesuit infirmary," wrote Father Christiansen.
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