Prophetic words from the late Avery Cardinal Dulles in 2004:
If, in fact, the previous teaching had been discarded (on the death penalty), doubt would be cast on the current teaching as well. It too would have to be seen as reversible, and in that case, as having no firm hold on people’s assent. The new doctrine, based on a recent insight, would be in competition with a magisterial teaching that has endured for two millennia — or even more, if one wishes to count the biblical testimonies. Would not some Catholics be justified in adhering to the earlier teaching on the ground that it has more solid warrant than the new? The faithful would be confronted with the dilemma of having to dissent either from past or from present magisterial teaching.
As if one didn’t have enough books to read already. From Paulist Press, a new biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles, America’s most distinguished Catholic theologian, who passed away in December 2008. (And at 736 pages, it sounds like quite a read).
Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian, 1918-2008
by Patrick W. Carey. Paulist Press. 736p.
Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, is the foremost American Catholic theologian of the post-Vatican II era. This book is a religious and intellectual biography that focuses on his contributions to the development of American Catholic theology and to the larger arena of American Catholic life. The book traces his life and thought from his childhood in a prominent American Presbyterian and political family to his days as a student at Harvard where he converted to Catholicism, to his World War II experience in the Navy, to his ordination as a Jesuit, and then to his career as a theologian in the post-Vatican II era. In the entire twentieth century, no other theologian, with the possible exception of John Courtney Murray, SJ, has had as important an impact upon American Catholic thought. Dulles, though, is unmatched in the twentieth century because of his prolific publications and the wide distribution and reading of his published theology. More bishops, priests, and religious, as well as large numbers of laity, have been influenced by his writings and by any other single American theologian. This book will put his contributions to theology within the wider context of his religious life and the cultural and religious transformations in the United States during the last half of the twentieth century.
Reviews and Related Info
The fifth installment of my series pointing out the follies of some Jesuits in this country. Father John O’Malley, SJ, of the theology department of Georgetown has a piece in America, where else?, in which he hails Obama as a President who embodies something called “the Spirit of Vatican II”. Actually I think Obama really embodies “the Spirit of Jesuits Trapped in ’68”. Father Z does the necessary fisking of the article here. Carl Olsen has some pointed comments on the same subject here. Rich Leonardi of Ten Reasons points us to thoughts about the meaning of Vatican II by the late, and very great, Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, which appeared in America in 2003.