cross_at_sunsetIf any one thinker guided the American Catholic Church into a new age after Vatican II, it was Avery Cardinal Dulles ’40. The Cardinal leaves a legacy of contributions to Catholic intellectualism. A staunch defender of orthodoxy, Dulles facilitated communication within the Church and was staunchly committed to ecumenism.

Dulles considered himself an agnostic by the time he arrived as an undergraduate at Harvard in 1936, but the beauty and mystery of nature convinced him that there was more to the universe than meets the eye. He became a Catholic the year he graduated, and sixteen years later he joined the Jesuit order. In 2001, he became the first American theologian to be named a cardinal. Most cardinals are bishops with experience as community pastors. Dulles, however, was given the title in honor of his extraordinary contributions to Catholic theology after the Second Vatican Council.

More than any specific teaching or document, Dulles leaves behind an example of a fierce commitment to using reason to understand and express Christian truth, giving us a chance to see that God wants each of us to use our gifts for His glory.


Matthew Cavedon ’11 is a Comparative Study of Religion concentrator in Quincy House.

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