Weigel on Dulles

George Weigel has a piece on the Newsweek website on Cardinal Dulles.   A clip:

His pre-ordination philosophy and theology courses and his graduate studies in Rome, where he received the doctorate in 1960, prepared him for a teaching career at Woodstock College, Catholic University and Fordham. That immersion in the Catholic tradition in full also gave him the conceptual anchor that kept him remarkably steadfast in the intellectual whitewater of the post-Vatican II years. His steadiness, which was complemented by an equally remarkable fairness to those with whom he disagreed, made him a unique figure on the U.S. Catholic theological scene—a reference point for just about every serious Catholic religious thinker, and more than a few Protestants and Jews as well. His lecture style was not particularly scintillating; but his written work—extending over more than two dozen books and 800 scholarly articles—was the very model of lucidity. Pope John Paul II, on the advice of Cardinal Joseph Ratinger, honored that accomplishment in 2001 with the cardinal’s red hat.

Avery Dulles was a self-consciously ecclesial theologian, who made a deliberate decision to “think with the church.” Some imagined this a form of conservatism; if it was (and such labels really don’t work with theology), it was an evangelical conservatism, an intellectual approach inspired by Christ’s instruction, after the multiplication of loaves ands fishes, to “pick up the fragments, that nothing may be lost.” Dulles explicated ancient truths; he stretched our understanding of them a bit; he probed their implications. But he never sought cheap originality or sound-bite fame.


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