NEW YORK, DEC. 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Three funeral Masses for Cardinal Avery Dulles, a U.S. Jesuit theologian who died Friday at the age of 90, are being celebrated in New York.The New York Province of the Society of Jesus informed of a Mass today for Jesuit religious and seminarians, followed by a Mass on Wednesday for the Fordham University community. After Thursday's Mass of Christian Burial at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Cardinal Dulles will be buried in the Jesuit cemetery in Auriesville, New York. Wakes will be held before each of the Masses.
Avery Dulles was born in 1918 in Auburn, New York. He was raised Presbyterian, became agnostic in college, and converted to Catholicism in 1940. On the eve of his 86th birthday, in an interview with Salt and Light Television, he exclaimed simply that it was his studies that led him to the Catholic faith.
He was ordained a priest of the Society of Jesus in 1956. In that same interview, Cardinal Dulles said that the Jesuit order had been his home ever since he entered, a home that had made him very happy.
Father Dulles served as a professor at Woodstock College, the Catholic University of America, and Fordham University, as well as a visiting faculty member at many other universities.
"I've always been a learner in teaching," the cardinal told Salt and Light, "and I'm always interested in finding out something new for myself so I try not to repeat courses any more than I have to […] so I'm exploring something new." And Cardinal Dulles said he preferred above all teaching graduate students, so they could "criticize and talk back to me and that way, refine my own thinking."
He authored over 700 articles and 22 books on theological topics. In 2001 he was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, and became the first American priest to become a cardinal without having been a bishop.
Reflecting on his theological journey, he said: "By and large, I don't see any great break in my own theology. Other people seem to think my theology has shifted but I think only to the extent that I have addressed new problems that have arisen in different decades. But, I think basically my doctrine has been the same. I've always been adherent to the teaching of the magisterium. I don't remember ever contradicting any official Roman Catholic teaching."
Benedict XVI visited Cardinal Dulles in a private audience during his apostolic trip to the United States last April.
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On the Net:
Funeral Masses live: http://www.fordham.edu/Media
Interview with Salt and Light: http://www.saltandlighttv.org/prog_slprog_witness_popup_avery_dulles.html