Funeral Plans have been announced by the New York Province of the Society of Jesus for Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, who died this morning at the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University. There will be a Mass of the Holy Name of Jesus particularly for Jesuits in New York, and religious and clergy in New York, at Fordham’s Chapel on Tuesday at 7:30 PM; a Mass of the Holy Eucharist for the Fordham community of students, faculty and staff on Wednesday at 7:30 PM; and a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday at 2:00 PM, which will (most likely) be celebrated by a representative by the Vatican.
The New York Times has published an extensive obituary and the Fordham University website a profile of his life. The Times of London calls him "one of the greatest thinkers in the modern Roman Catholic church and perhaps its most distinguished representative in the United States."
The following is the statement from the U.S. Jesuit Conference, the organizing body of the Society of Jesus in the United States:
The Jesuit Conference of the United States mourns the passing of Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, who died early today at Fordham University’s Murray-Weigel Hall in New York. We join with our brothers of the New York Province, the whole Society of Jesus and all who knew and loved him in offering prayers of thanksgiving for his life of service to God and the Church as he has been called home.
"Cardinal Dulles was man of tremendous intellectual rigor whose teaching and writing contributed greatly to the vibrancy of Catholic intellectual life," commented the President of the Jesuit Conference, Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich. "Yet for a man with so many gifts, he never viewed himself as anything more than a poor servant of Christ," Smolich added. "In this way, he called all of us into a more intimate relationship with the Lord he so dearly loved."
"Dulles was part of the new generation of theologians following Vatican II who brought a fresh approach to ecclesiology," said Jesuit theologian Father Kevin Burke, president of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. "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. To my knowledge he is the first to write about and probe the question of whether the distinctive resources of Ignatian spirituality open up unique paths for doing theology in the modern, and now post-modern, world."
The son of U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, he was raised a Presbyterian but converted to the Catholic faith while a student at Harvard College. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Dulles entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained on June 16, 1956. He held a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome and was a Jesuit for 52 years.
The author of 23 books and more than 800 articles, Dulles was President of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society. He taught theology at Woodstock College and the Catholic University of America, and was the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University, New York. He was also a member of the International Theological Commission and the U.S. Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue and a consultor to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.
During a 2005 interview with National Jesuit News, Cardinal Dulles commented on the past contributions of Jesuits such as Robert Bellarmine and Edmund Campion to the history of Catholic thought: "Jesuit spirituality instills a passion for the service of Christ’s Kingdom and a readiness to struggle against opposing forces. The Jesuit course of studies, which involves assiduous formation in philosophy and the human sciences as well as in theology, has turned out priests well qualified to defend the faith." Though far too humble a man to ascribe those comments to himself, they could easily apply to Cardinal Dulles. In 2001, Pope John Paul II elevated him to the College of Cardinals, making Dulles the first American theologian to be named a Cardinal deacon.
Our prayers are with the Dulles family during their time of mourning.
Whispers in the Loggia carries statements from the USCCB, Edward Cardinal Egan and Archbishop Donald Wuerl. In addition to his writings for America, his writings in First Things, have also been posted.
Here is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, DC, and a former student of "Mr. Dulles," from his days as a Jesuit scholastic, or seminarian:
"I first met Avery Dulles some sixty years ago when I was a student at Fordham University and he was a Jesuit Scholastic and Moderator of the Sophomore Sodality at the College. Even then he was 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. I was privileged to help organize his First Mass and I will never forget his simplicity and his sense of wonder. He was a holy man, totally without guile or pretense."
And from Pope Benedict XVI to Edward Cardinal Egan:
"Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Avery Dulles, I offer you my heartfelt condolences, which I ask you to kindly convey to his family, his confreres in the Society of Jesus and the academic community of Fordham University. I join you in commending the late Cardinal’s noble soul to God, the Father of Mercies, with immense gratitude for the 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. At the same time I pray 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. To all who mourn him in the hope of the resurrection I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ."
James Martin, SJ