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Funeral for a Cardinal

Others who may have attended or concelebrated at the funeral yesterday for Avery Dulles, SJ, at St. Patrick's Cathedral may have better accounts, but this photo from The New York Times story is as evocativeas any of the wonderul words spoken and written about the "dean of American theologians."

Dulles Funeral.jpg

America magazine's bloghas had the best coverage I've seen,including this one from Jim Martin:

Cardinal Egan's warm homily took as its central image an ancient crucifix he had seen some 50 years ago in Umbria; from one side the face of Christ appeared contorted in pain; from the other illumined by joy. This image, suggested Egan, could be said to characterize Avery's life, one of triumph and, towards the end, of pain. Of the triumph: "In the life of our lamented cardinal, there was triumph of the most authentic sense," he said. "You have the example of a triumphant life story, never matched, to my knowledge, by any other American Catholic."As a young man in the Navy, Avery contracted polio, and was told that, because of the paralysis is his arm, he would never write again. "He proved them monumentally wrong," said Egan, referring to the over 800 articles and 23 books written by the Jesuit cardinal.Cardinal Egan remembered visiting Avery on his 90th birthday at Fordham--when Avery was bedridden, crippled by the recurrence of his polio--for a Mass in his honor. The cardinal wheeled Avery's bed up the aisle of the Fordham chapel, but only with difficulty, as a result of Egan's childhood polio. "I'm afraid it's a case of the lame pushing the lame," said Egan to Dulles.With that Avery broke into broad smile, and Egan was put in mind of that crucifix.

And in a moving culmination,the crowd erupted in applause as the casket was borne out of the cathedral and onto Fifth Avenue, where even the mass of holiday shoppershad to pause.

About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Thanks, David, for posting this.It was good to be reminded of how many people -- and how many kinds of people -- loved and admired Cardinal Dulles. A few rows in front of me at the Mass were some editors from America, a few rows behind some editors from First Things (the Cardinal wrote for both); there were lots of Jesuits, of course, but also a large contingent of CFR friars and some Sisters of Life. And then all the other cardinals, all the bishops, the priests and seminarians of the archdiocese. It took several minutes for them all to file in at the procession.Cardinal Dulles was one of the most remarkable men I've ever met. He was, of course, a great man by any normal measure of greatness, but great men aren't usually so easy to like. There was the boyish laugh, so much higher than his speaking voice. There were the eyes, kind and watchful. How to describe the quality of his glance? When he looked at you, he saw you. It impressed me that he always seemed to remember our last conversation better than I did. Part of this was no doubt just a function of his extraordinary memory, but it also had to do with the way he listened to people -- as if, even at the end of a long life, he might hear something new. May he rest in peace.

Matthew, that's very moving.By the way, I liked your reflections on Inside Catholic about the future of Catholics and voting.

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