BY MARK PATTISON IN WASHINGTON DC
CARDINAL Avery Dulles, a Jesuit theologian, has died in New York aged 90 years.
Cardinal Dulles had been the oldest living US cardinal. His death "brings home to God a great theologian and a totally dedicated servant of the Church", said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the US bishops.
"I am deeply saddened at the loss of a personal friend, but I rejoice in the hope that now he sees clearly what he explored so well in his studies on revelation, on pace and on the nature of the Church and the papal office," he said.
Cardinal Dulles gave what was described as a farewell address in April. delivering the Laurence J McGinley lecture at Jesuit-run Fordham University. Cardinal Dulles reconfirmed his faith, his orthodoxy, his spirituality and his commitment to the Society of Jesus.
He also offered a final wort against the materialism. relativism, subjectivism, hedonism. scientism and superficial anti-intellectualism he said is found in modem society.
Later that month he had a private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI during the Pontiff's visit to New York.
"It was a lovely meeting,said Dominican Sister AnneMarie .Kinnse, the cardinal's executive assistant for the past 20 years. "The Pope literally bounded into the room with a big smile on his face:' The session was a meeting of -two of the leading Catholic theologians who interpreted Vatican II for a generation-,
according to Fr James Massa, of the US bishops' secretariat of ecumenical and interreligious affairs.
Pope John Paul II included Cardinal Dulles in the group of cardinals created in 2001.
The son of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and nephew of ex-CIA director Allen Walsh Dulles, both of whom served in the Eisenhower administration, became known in his own right for his groundbreaking 1974 work Models of the Church — one of 22 books published under his name — in which he defined the Church as institution, mystical communion, sacrament, herald, servant and community of disciples.
Cardinal Dulles was the grandson of a Presbyterian minister. He joined the Catholic Church after a period of unbelief. "In becoming a Catholic. I felt from the beginning that I was joining the communion of the saints," he said at a 2004 lecture on author C S Lewis. "I found great joy at the sense of belonging to a body of believers that stretched across the face of the globe."
He served in the Navy in the Second World War, then entered the Jesuits after his discharge in 1946. He was ordained in 1956.
Cardinal Dulles was professor of religion and society at Fordham since 1988. He also had taught in Washington at the former Woodstock College, and the Catholic University of America. Past president of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society, Cardinal Dulles served as a consultant to the US bishops' Committee on Doctrine. The cardinal was a frequent lecturer on religious and Church matters well into his 80s. In a 2005 lecture Cardinal Dulles said: "The true spirit of the council is to be found in, and not apart from. the letterof Vatican II texts.
"When rightly interpreted, the documents of Vatican II can still be a powerful source of renewal for the Church,he said. Also in 2005, he said the 1551 teaching of the Council of Trent on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist -remains today as notmative as ever".
The council described the presence with three adverbs-"truly, really and substantially"-that are "the keys that open the door to Catholic teaching and exclude contrary views-, he said.
In a New York lecture on the start of the 2004-05 Year of the Eucharist, Cardinal Dulles said Catholics must be aware "the Church is in dirt need of renewal". Although "holy in her head and in her apostolic heritage", the Church remained-sinful in her members and in constant need of being purified-. he said, adding many Catholics were ignorant of Church teachings.
At the first National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington in 2004 Cardinal Dulles said that although for Americans "there is nothing more sacred to our lives than t idea of liberty" the "negative pull" of freedom from responsibilities was drawing the nation into immorality.
-Once freedom operates in a moral vacuum, it becomes