"For a Modest Cardinal, a Farewell Full of Majesty"
INCENSE AT ST. PATRICK’S Cardinal Edward M. Egan blessed the coffin with incense Thursday at the high Mass for Cardinal Avery Dulles.
As it had to be, the majestic high Mass on Thursday for Cardinal Avery Dulles at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was an occasion of splendor and vivid remembrance for a soft-spoken cardinal who — though he wielded intellectual and moral influence as a Jesuit, a theologian and a writer — once said, “I’m not particularly made for ceremonies.”
The cardinal, the only American theologian ever appointed to the College of Cardinals, died last Friday at the age of 90 at Fordham University in the Bronx, where he had taught. He had “a triumphant life story,” said Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York, who celebrated the nearly two-hour Mass.
As 750 mourners looked on, a stately rainbow assemblage of more than 150 church dignitaries, including six cardinals, moved in procession past Christmas wreaths and shimmering candles in the nave fragrant with incense. They passed the cardinal’s mortal remains in a coffin draped in a white pall — symbol of the joy of resurrection — and surmounted with a gold crucifix.
Then the bishops, abbots, archbishops and cardinals removed their white miters as they headed into the sanctuary, revealing a bobbing congregation of red and purple hats.
The journey of Cardinal Dulles to St. Patrick’s was unusual in that this son of diplomats and Presbyterians had been a convert to Roman Catholicism. And, when he was designated a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II, he was not a bishop or an archbishop, though his voice had been influential in American Catholicism.
The cardinal considered his scarlet hat an honorary one, since he was 82 at the time, two years past the voting age in electing a new pope. “The Jesuits loved him,” said the Rev. Ronald J. Amiot, an administrator at Loyola College in Maryland who was one of hundreds who paid respects to the cardinal during a three-hour wake in the St. Patrick’s Lady Chapel before the funeral Mass.
The cardinal, Father Amiot added, had been an inspiration to him when he was a seminarian and ever after because “he was a man who walked the walk, and lived what he believed.”
An elder statesman of Catholic theology in America, Cardinal Dulles, the son of John Foster Dulles — the secretary of state under President Dwight D. Eisenhower — was a professor of religion for two decades at Fordham.
“His extraordinary personal pilgrimage enabled him to be a great conciliator,” said the Rev. Joseph A. O’Hare, Fordham’s former president.
During the Mass, mourners, including members of the Dulles family, held program books and the St. Michael Hymnal as they sang “For All the Saints,” which echoed in the great nave. Speakers honored the cardinal’s priestly and academic career, which spanned five decades, during which he wrote 27 books and 800 articles.
Cardinal Dulles wrote in later years that he experienced a profound religious moment in February 1939, when, as an agnostic student at Harvard, he made the leap of faith.
He described his decision to convert to Catholicism as that of “one of those timid swimmers who closes his eyes as he jumps into the roaring sea.”
He shocked his family and friends the next year by converting. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1946 and was ordained as a priest in 1956.
Cardinal Dulles became a conservative theologian in an era of liturgical reforms and rising secularism, rallying to the defense of the pope against demands for change, and giving uncompromising loyalty to an American church that had been wounded after covering up hundreds of cases of sexual abuse by priests and suffering the loss of tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits as a result.
Aside from his academic persona, Cardinal Dulles “was a priest’s priest,” said the Rev. David S. Ciancimino, the provincial, or head, of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, terming him a modest man who “shunned the limelight.”
Cardinal Egan fondly recalled the years he had known the tall, self-deprecating Cardinal Dulles, whose angular face was often likened to that of a beardless Abraham Lincoln.
He said that Cardinal Dulles knew well the suffering of ordinary parishioners. Indeed, during the last phase of his life, due to the recurrence of the severe polio he contracted while he served in the Navy during the Second World War, Cardinal Dulles “was confined to a wheelchair and rendered unable to speak,” Cardinal Egan said.
After the Mass, the wan late-afternoon sun, which had returned for the day to Manhattan, made the church dignitaries’ miters and gold-threaded vestments gleam as the procession escorted the coffin down the steps to Fifth Avenue from the warm cathedral into the brisk afternoon and a waiting hearse. And spontaneously, the crowd of hundreds at the bronze doors applauded.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Avery Dulles A Farewell Full Of Majesty
From The New York Times