Avery Robert Dulles, who was elevated to the Cardinalate in 2001, died this morning in the Jesuit Infirmary at Fordham University Hospital in New York. For the last twenty years he was a Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham. He was 90.
Cardinal Dulles was a member of a distinguished and remarkable American family with a long history of public and intellectual service to the nation.
His father was John Foster Dulles, who served as President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State from 1953 to 1959. Secretary of State was something of a family tradition — both the cardinals great- grandfather, John W. Dulles, and his great uncle, Robert Lansing, had held the position (for former for President Benjamin Harrison, the latter for Woodrow Wilson).
Cardinal Dulles’ uncle was Allen Dulles, who was the Director of Central Intelligence from 1953 to 1961. His book The Craft of Intelligence remains a highly readable primer on spycraft. Both Dulles brothers were friends and advisers of RN as congressman, senator, and vice president.
Cardinal Dulles’ aunt was Eleanor Lansing Dulles, who had a long career as a public servant, author, and teacher.
Cardinal Dulles was raised as a Presbyterian; he became an agnostic; he converted to Roman Catholicism after heroic Navy service in World War Two; and he entered the Society of Jesus in 1956. He became a noted theologian. In 2001, he became one of the few Cardinals ever created without having first been made a Bishop.
Cardinal Dulles’ colorful and contributory life is described in an obituary in The New York Times (whose house style apparently requires separation of church and state by mangling the traditional form of address and writing about Cardinal Avery Dulles.)