Robert P. ImbelliJanuary 12, 2009 - 11:25am0 comments
Avery Dulles, SJ, the first American theologian to be named a cardinal of the Catholic Church, went home to the Lord on December 12, 2008, at age ninety. The author of more than twenty books and hundreds of articles, Cardinal Dulles was one of contemporary Catholicism’s finest and most influential theologians.
I first came to know Avery Dulles when I was still a graduate student in theology, and he was already a distinguished teacher and author. From the first he always patiently responded to my questions with his unparalleled clarity and breadth of knowledge of the theological tradition. But then he would sit back and ask: “What do you think?” The question was never pro forma: the man was genuinely eager to know and to learn—even into his ninetieth year.
Born on August 24, 1918, the son of John Foster Dulles (a prominent Presbyterian elder and later secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration) and Janet Pomeroy Avery, he attended Harvard College. In his early years there he struggled with questions about the existence of God and whether human existence admitted of any purpose. He found initial illumination in the works of the classical and medieval philosophers. Beginning a daily meditative reading of the New Testament, he was gradually led to commit himself to Christ in the Catholic Church. Dulles later chronicled his spiritual journey in his 1946 book A Testimonial...