By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON – 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.
“I think everybody has to ask why they’re alive and what they can best do with this limited time they have on earth in order to attain the goal for which they’re made,” Cardinal Dulles told The Catholic Standard & Times in July 2001. “That requires some serious reflection. I’ve tried to help people make that reflection.
“My work is circled very much around the problem of faith. Can one believe? Should one believe? What should one believe? I think that implicitly answers everything else about what one should do and love and so forth.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Christie Chicoine of the Catholic Standard & Times contributed to this report.