Cardinal Avery Dulles (1918–2008) was probably the most respected Catholic theologian in the United States in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The author of twenty-four books and more than eight hundred articles, Dulles was widely known and read long before he received his red hat in 2001.
A scholar with a voluminous knowledge of the history of his craft, Dulles was cherished as well for his carefully calibrated evaluations of theological positions and a rare ability to see and understand many sides of a theological argument. Both those who agreed with his theological opinions and those who did not knew him to be a fair and engaging conversation partner.
Dulles, a convert from the Presbyterian Church, entered the Society of Jesus in 1946 and earned a doctorate in theology at the Gregorian University in Rome. He went on to teach at Woodstock College in Maryland, the Catholic University of America, and Fordham University. Many of his books appear on standard reading lists for doctoral students in theology. The Catholicity of the Church, The Assurance of Things Hoped For, The Craft of Theology, The Splendor of Faith, and A History of Apologetics are sometimes called “Dulles’s Greatest Hits.” Yet his single greatest hit was undoubtedly Models of the Church, published in 1974 and instantly acclaimed as a classic.
Some have cast Dulles as a theological liberal who, as a result of the seeming chaos of the Catholic sixties...