Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Ph.D., the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society, will deliver his 39th McGinley lecture on Tuesday, April 1, at 8 p.m. at the Leonard Theatre, Fordham Preparatory School, on the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. The lecture is titled, “Farewell Address as Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society (1988 – 2008).”
A response to the lecture will be given by Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, Ph.D., associate professor of theology at Boston College.
Cardinal Dulles, who will stay on as the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Emeritus, has held the McGinley chair since 1988. Born in Auburn, N.Y., he is an internationally known author and lecturer. Named to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II in 2001, he is the only United States-born theologian who is not a bishop ever to receive this honor. Cardinal Dulles has published 23 books and more than 800 articles, essays and reviews on theological topics.
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Update (3/4/08): Catholic News Service reports on Avery Cardinal Dulles’ farewell address:
Cardinal Dulles, a Jesuit theologian, ended his 20-year series of annual McGinley lectures, from 1988 to 2008, with a short summation of his theology and his ministry and a synopsis of his previous lectures. …
Confined to a wheelchair and incapable of prolonged speech as a result of post-polio syndrome which he originally contacted when he was in the Navy 62-years ago, Jesuit Father Joseph P O’Hare, Fordham’s former president, gave the presentation for the cardinal.
Father Robert P. Imbelli, a New York archdiocesan priest, who is associate theology professor at Jesuit-run Boston College, presented an analysis of the cardinal’s speech.
As ever, Dulles exemplified the discipline and integrity of a loyal servant of Christ and his Church, in service not to his own ambitions but to the truth:
[Dulles] said his principal aim in his lectures was “to present and classify the existing opinions” and “to criticize views that are inadequate.”
He always tried “to incorporate the valid insights of all parties to the discussion, rather than perpetuate a one-sided view that is partial and incomplete,” he said.
“I think of myself as a moderate trying to make peace between (opposing) schools of thought. While doing so, however, I insist on logical consistency. Unlike certain relativists of our time, I abhor mixtures of contradiction,” Cardinal Dulles said.
He began his theological lectures “by asking what others, especially authoritative voices, had to say about pertinent questions,” he said. If everyone agreed, “it is sufficient to note the consensus,” he added.
If a spectrum of opinions existed, “I sought out the best arguments in favor of each major position,” he continued. He said his intention was “to give an informed judgment as to which positions are sound and which should be rejected.”
In each case, “I am willingly adhering to the testimony of Scripture and perennial Catholic tradition,” he said.
The cardinal admitted he never strove for originality.
“Very few new ideas, I suspect, are true. If I conceived a theological idea that had never occurred to anyone in the past, I would have every reason to think myself mistaken,” he said.
In the presentation Cardinal Dulles reconfirmed his faith, his orthodoxy, his spirituality and his commitment to the Society of Jesus. He also offered a final word against the materialism, relativism, subjectivism, hedonism, scientism and superficial anti-intellectualism he said is found in modern society.