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Avery Dulles

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Title: Avery Dulles  
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Subject: John Foster Dulles, Choate Rosemary Hall, 2008, 21st-century American Roman Catholic theologians, International Theological Commission
Collection: 1918 Births, 2008 Deaths, 20Th-Century Jesuits, 21St-Century American Roman Catholic Theologians, 21St-Century Jesuits, American Cardinals, American Jesuits, American Roman Catholic Theologians, Burials in New York, Cardinals Created by Pope John Paul II, Catholic University of America Faculty, Choate Rosemary Hall Alumni, Converts to Roman Catholicism from Atheism or Agnosticism, Converts to Roman Catholicism from Calvinism, Deaths from Poliomyelitis, Dulles Family, Fordham University Faculty, Harvard Law School Alumni, Harvard University Alumni, International Theological Commission, Jesuit Cardinals, Jesuit Theologians, People from Auburn, New York, People from the Bronx, People with Poliomyelitis, Pontifical Gregorian University Alumni, Recipients of the Croix De Guerre 1939–1945 (France), United States Navy Officers
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Avery Dulles

His Eminence
Avery Robert Dulles, S.J.
Cardinal-Deacon of SS. Nomi di Gesù e Maria
Ordination June 16, 1956
Created Cardinal February 21, 2001
Personal details
Born (1918-08-24)August 24, 1918
Auburn, New York, United States
Died December 12, 2008(2008-12-12) (aged 90)
Bronx, New York, United States
Buried Jesuit Cemetery, Auriesville, New York, United States
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents John Foster Dulles & Janet Pomeroy
Occupation Professor and theologian
Motto Scio Cui Credidi
Coat of arms }
Styles of
Avery Dulles
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See N/A

Avery Robert Dulles, S.J. (; August 24, 1918 – December 12, 2008) was a Jesuit priest, theologian, and cardinal of the Catholic Church. Dulles served on the faculty of Woodstock College from 1960 to 1974, of The Catholic University of America from 1974 to 1988, and as the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University from 1988 to 2008. He was an internationally known author and lecturer.


  • Early life 1
  • Society of Jesus and elevation to the cardinalate 2
  • Honors and awards 3
  • Farewell address and death 4
  • Partial list of publications 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Dulles was born in Auburn, New York, the son of John Foster Dulles, the future U.S. Secretary of State (for whom Washington Dulles International Airport is named), and Janet Pomeroy Dulles. His uncle was Director of Central Intelligence Allen Welsh Dulles. Both his great-grandfather John W. Foster and great-uncle Robert Lansing also served as U.S. Secretary of State. His paternal grandfather, Allen Macy Dulles, was a member of the faculty of Auburn Theological Seminary and published in the field of ecclesiology, to which the Catholic Dulles would likewise devote scholarly attention.

He received his primary school education in New York City at the St. Bernard's School and attended secondary schools in Switzerland and The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Dulles was raised a Presbyterian but had become an agnostic by the time he began college at Harvard in 1936.[1] His religious doubts were diminished during a personally profound moment when he stepped out into a rainy day and saw a tree beginning to flower along the Charles River; after that moment he never again "doubted the existence of an all-good and omnipotent God."[2] He noted how his theism turned toward conversion to Catholicism: "The more I examined, the more I was impressed with the consistency and sublimity of Catholic doctrine."[2] He converted to Catholicism in the fall of 1940.[1][3]

After both winning the Phi Beta Kappa Essay Prize[4] and graduating from Harvard College in 1940, Dulles spent a year and a half in Harvard Law School, during which time he founded the "St. Benedict Center". (The Center later became well-known due to the controversial Jesuit priest, Leonard Feeney, S.J.) He served in the United States Navy during World War II, attaining the rank of Lieutenant. For his liaison work with the French Navy, Dulles was awarded the French Croix de guerre.

Society of Jesus and elevation to the cardinalate

Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1946, Avery Dulles entered the Society of Jesus, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1956. After a year in Germany, he studied ecclesiology under the American Jesuit Francis A. Sullivan at the Gregorian University in Rome, and was awarded the Doctorate of Sacred Theology in 1960.

Dulles served on the faculty of Woodstock College from 1960 to 1974, and that of The Catholic University of America from 1974 to 1988. He was a visiting professor at: The Gregorian University (Rome), Weston School of Theology, Union Theological Seminary (New York), Princeton Theological Seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Boston College, Campion Hall, Oxford, the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University at Leuven, Yale University, and St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie. He was the author of over 700 articles on theological topics, as well as twenty-two books. In 1994, he was a signer of the document Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

Past President of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society, and Professor Emeritus at The Catholic University of America, Dulles served on the International Theological Commission and as a member of the United States Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue. Dulles was critical of dual-covenant theology, especially as understood in the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' document Reflections on Covenant and Mission.[5] He was a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Although Jesuits make a promise against pursuing ecclesiastical dignities and do not normally accept promotion within the Church hierarchy, Dulles was created a cardinal of the Catholic Church in Rome on February 21, 2001 by Pope John Paul II. At the time of his elevation to cardinal, he was not raised to the rank of bishop, as is normally the case, as he had successfully petitioned the pope for a dispensation from episcopal consecration due to his advanced age. His titular assignment was as Cardinal-Deacon of SS. Nome di Gesù e Maria in Via Lata (the Most Holy Names of Jesus and Mary). Because he had reached the age of 80 before becoming cardinal, Dulles had exceeded the mandatory age limit of retirement; he was never eligible to vote in a conclave (of which one occurred during his cardinalate, that of the 2005). Because he was a cardinal but not a bishop, Dulles became an honorary, non-voting member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Honors and awards

Dulles' awards included Phi Beta Kappa, the Croix de Guerre, the Cardinal Spellman Award for distinguished achievement in theology, the Boston College Presidential Bicentennial Award, the Christus Magister Medal from the University of Portland (Oregon), the Religious Education Forum Award from the National Catholic Educational Association, America magazine's Campion Award, the F. Sadlier Dinger Award for contributions to the catechetical ministry of the Church, the James Cardinal Gibbons Award from The Catholic University of America, the John Carroll Society Medal, the Jerome Award from the Roman Catholic Library Association of America, Fordham Founders Award, Gaudium Award from the Breukelein Institute, and thirty-three honorary doctorates.

Farewell address and death

In his later years, the cardinal suffered from the effects of polio from his youth. On Tuesday April 1, 2008, Cardinal Dulles gave his Farewell Address as Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society. As Dulles was unable to speak, former President of Fordham University Father Joseph O'Hare, S.J., read his address. In addition to the loss of speech, the use of his arms was impaired but his mind remained clear and he continued to work and communicate using his computer keyboard.[6] Current Fordham President Father Joseph McShane, S.J. also presented him with the University's President's Medal that evening. April 1, 2008 also marked the date the Cardinal's book, Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988–2007 (Fordham University Press, 2008) was released.

In his Farewell Lecture, the cardinal reflected on his weakening condition:

Suffering and diminishment are not the greatest of evils but are normal ingredients in life, especially in old age. They are to be expected as elements of a full human existence. Well into my 90th year I have been able to work productively. As I become increasingly paralyzed and unable to speak, I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospels, grateful for the loving and skillful care I receive and for the hope of everlasting life in Christ. If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that his power can be made perfect in infirmity. "Blessed be the name of the Lord!"[6]

On April 19, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave the ailing Cardinal Dulles a private audience during his apostolic trip to the United States. Dulles prepared his written remarks to the pope prior to the visit.[7]

Dulles died on December 12, 2008 at Fordham University in the Bronx, where he had lived for many years. His remains were buried in the Jesuit cemetery in Auriesville, New York.[8]

Partial list of publications

  • Princeps Concordiae: Pico della Mirandola and the Scholastic Tradition – The Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Prize Essay for 1940, Cambridge, MA: Harvard (1941).
  • A Testimonial To Grace Sheed & Ward, New York (1952); the fiftieth anniversary edition of this book was republished in 1996 by the original publishers, with an afterword containing his reflections on the past fifty years.
  • Revelation and the Quest for Unity (1968)
  • The Survival of Dogma (1971)
  • Models of the Church, Doubleday (1974), ISBN 978-0-385-50545-1
  • Models of Revelation (1983)
  • The Catholicity of the Church (1985)
  • Models of the Church 2nd ed. (1987)
  • The Craft of Theology: From Symbol to System (1992)
  • The Assurance of Things Hoped For: A Theology of Christian Faith (1994)
  • The Splendor of Faith: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II (1999; revised in 2003 for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the papal election)
  • The New World of Faith. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing. 2000.  
  • Newman. Continuum International Publishing Group. 2002.  
  • "Models of the Church", Expanded Edition, Image Classics (2002), ISBN 978-0-385-13368-5
  • Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith, Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University (2007), ISBN 1-932589-38-4
  • Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988–2007, Fordham University Press (2008), ISBN 0-8232-2862-2
  • Avery Robert Dulles,  


  1. ^ a b Biography of Avery Dulles, Catholic
  2. ^ a b Royal, Robert "Avery Dulles's Long Road to Rome", Crisis Magazine July–August 2001
  3. ^ As I Remember Fordham: Selections from the Sesquicentennial Oral History Project. [New York, N.Y.]: Office of the Sesquicentennial, Fordham University. 1991. p. 61.  
  4. ^ Avery Dulles (1941), Princeps Concordiae: Pico della Mirandola and the Scholastic Tradition – The Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Prize Essay for 1940, Cambridge, MA: Harvard.
  5. ^ "Covenant and Mission", America Magazine
  6. ^ a b Imbelli, Robert P. A Visit with Avery Dulles Commonweal, June 1, 2008
  7. ^ James Martin, SJ. "Three Unreported Papal Stories." America. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2009
  8. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (December 12, 2008). "Cardinal Avery Dulles, Theologian, Is Dead at 90". New York Times. Archived from the original on 14 December 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2008. 

External links

  • Initial text based on faculty bio posted with permission from Avery Dulles, S.J.
  • Faculty Homepage
  • Cardinal Avery Dulles Online Archive
  • Catholic Hierarchy – information on Cardinal Dulles
  • Cardinal Avery Dulles
  • Catholic pages Cardinal Dulles bio
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
The Laurence J. McGinley Chair in Religion and Society at Fordham University
1988 – 2008
Succeeded by
Patrick J. Ryan, S.J.
Preceded by
Justinus Darmojuwono
Cardinal-Deacon of Santissimi Nome di Gesù e Maria in Via Lata
2001 – 2008
Succeeded by
Domenico Bartolucci
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