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Church and Society

The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007

Avery Dulles

Publication Year: 2008

One of the leading theologians of our time, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., has written and lectured on a wide range of topics across his distinguished career, and for a wide range of audiences. Integrating faith and scholarship, he has created a rich body of work that, in the words of one observer, is both faithful to Catholic tradition and fresh in its engagement with the contemporary world.Here, brought together for the first time in one volume, are the talks Cardinal Dulles has given twice each year since the Laurence J. McGinley Lectures were initiated in 1988, conceived broadly as a forum on Church and society. The result is a diverse collection that reflects the breadth of his thinking and engages with many of the most important-and difficult-religious issues of our day.Organized chronologically, the lectures are often responses to timely issues, such as the relationship between religion and politics, a topic he treated in the last weeks of the presidential campaign of 1992. Other lectures take up questions surrounding human rights, faith and evolution, forgiveness, the death penalty, the doctrine of religious freedom, the population of hell, and a whole array of theological subjects, many of which intersect with culture and politics. The life of the Church is a major and welcome focus of the lectures, whether they be a reflection on Cardinal Newman or an exploration of the difficulties of interfaith dialogue. Dulles responds frequently to initiatives of the Holy See, discussing gender and priesthood in the context of church teaching, and Pope Benedict's interpretation of Vatican II. Writing with clarity and conviction, Cardinal Dulles seeks to render the wisdom of past ages applicable to the world in which we live.For those seeking to share in this wisdom, this book will be a consistently rewarding guide to what it means to be Catholic-indeed, to be a person of any faith-in a world of rapid, relentless change.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vii

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Foreword: Avery Dulles, Vir Ecclesiasticus...

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pp. ix-xx

One of the most heartfelt accolades the early Fathers could bestow on a theologian was to praise him as a vir ecclesiasticus: an ecclesial man. I can think of few theologians of our day who so merit the title as Cardinal...

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pp. xxi-xxiii

Upon my retirement as a professor of theology at The Catholic University of America in 1988, Father Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., President of Fordham University, invited me to be the first occupant of the newly established Laurence...


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pp. xxv-xxvii

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1. University Theology as a Service to the Church: December 6–7, 1988

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pp. 1-15

The title of this lecture could be an occasion for some surprise. University theology is not always considered a benefit to the Church. In the light of certain well-publicized cases of recent memory some might be inclined...

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2. Teaching Authority in the Church: March 16, 1989

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pp. 16-26

In its full scope the problem of authority and freedom in the Church is much broader than what I propose to cover in this brief paper. Under the rubric of authority I shall limit myself to the teaching authority of those who hold pastoral...

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3. Catholicism and American Culture: The Uneasy Dialogue: December 5–6, 1989

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pp. 27-42

After several centuries of increasing centralization, Vatican Council II set the Catholic Church on a course of inner diversification. It depicted Catholicism in terms that were pluralistic rather than monolithic, multiform rather...

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4. Faith and Experience: Strangers? Rivals? Partners?: March 14, 1990

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pp. 43-50

Philosophers cannot agree about what ‘‘experience’’ is, and theologians differ widely regarding the meaning of ‘‘faith.’’ Since the very terms are matters of debate, I can hardly be expected to settle the relationship between experience...

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5. Newman, Conversion,and Ecumenism: December 4, 1990

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pp. 51-67

The centenary of Cardinal Newman’s death, on August 11, 1890, has occasioned a large number of conferences and studies dealing with various aspects of his work. The present lecture is intended as a part of this commemoration...

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6. The Uses of Scripture in Theology: April 10, 1991

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pp. 68-86

Over the centuries, the Catholic Church has accumulated a vast body of official teaching on the interpretation of Scripture.1 The Council of Trent, warning against the dangers of private interpretation in matters pertaining...

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7. John Paul II and the New Evangelization: December 4–5, 1991

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pp. 87-102

The majority of Catholics are not strongly inclined toward evangelization. The very term has for them a Protestant ring. The Catholic Church is highly dogmatic, sacramental, and hierarchical in character. Its activities are primarily...

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8. Historical Method and the Reality of Christ: April 2, 1992

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pp. 103-115

After a period of relative quiescence the quest of the historical Jesus has again become a center of controversy. Two major contributions to the theme—John P. Meier’s A Marginal Jew1 and John Dominic Crossan’s...

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9. Religion and the Transformation of Politics: October 6, 1992

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pp. 116-128

In an election year more often than at other times questions are raised about the part that religion plays, or ought to play, in politics. Should the Church attempt to influence the political outlook of its members and that of the larger...

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10. The Church as Communion: March 31, 1993

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pp. 129-141

I gratefully dedicate this essay to the memory of Father John Meyendorff, one of the outstanding ecumenists of our time. Four years ago, on March 16, 1989, he responded to my spring McGinley lecture, and in so doing made very...

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11. The Prophetic Humanism of John Paul II: September 28, 1993

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pp. 142-156

For some time I have been asking myself whether there is a single theme or rubric under which it might be possible to summarize the message of the pontificate of John Paul II. I have thought about the pope’s concern for the inner...

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12. The Challenge of the Catechism: October 20, 1994

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pp. 157-174

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the boldest challenge yet offered to the cultural relativism that currently threatens to erode the contents of Catholic faith. According to a widely prevalent view, religious truth consists...

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13. Crucified for Our Sake: Love, Violence, and Sacrifice: April 10, 1995

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pp. 175-190

When I was a college student, I took a course on the painting of the North Italian Renaissance. At one point the professor showed us a slide projection of an immense canvas of the crucifixion by Tintoretto. Pointing...

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14. John Paul II and the Advent of the New Millennium: November 16, 1995

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pp. 191-204

The Church celebrates different aspects of her relationship to God by recalling different events in the history of salvation. Every Sunday, for example, is a little Easter, a remembrance of the resurrection, and every Friday...

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15. Priesthood and Gender: April 10, 1996

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pp. 205-220

The most controversial statement that has come from the Holy See during the pontificate of John Paul II concerns the priestly ordination of women. On Pentecost Sunday, 1994, Pope John Paul II issued a brief...

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16. The Travails of Dialogue: November 19, 1996

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pp. 221-233

Before the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church was polemically arrayed against other groups, including the non-Christian religions, non-Catholic Christianity, and the modern world. John XXIII deserves the credit for having...

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17. The Ignatian Tradition and Contemporary Theology: April 10, 1997

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pp. 234-247

In this academic year we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Jesuits at Fordham in 1846. Father Joseph A. O’Hare and Dr. John W. Healey have suggested the topic and the title of this lecture, and I have gratefully...

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18. Mary at the Dawn of the New Millennium: November 19, 1997

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pp. 248-261

For John Paul II, Mary is the primary patroness of the advent of the new millennium. As the mother of Christ she is preeminently an advent figure—the morning star announcing the rising of the Sun of Righteousness. Like the moon...

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19. Should the Church Repent?: April 15, 1998

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pp. 262-275

In his apostolic letter ‘‘On the Coming of the Third Millennium,’’ dated November 10, 1994, Pope John Paul II said that while the great jubilee of the year 2000 is to be a time of joyful celebration, the joy should be based on forgiveness...

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20. Human Rights: The United Nations and Papal Teaching: November 18, 1998

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pp. 276-290

On December 10 of this year, the world will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted with unanimous approval by the United Nations General Assembly...

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21. Can Philosophy Be Christian? The New State of the Question: April 7, 1999

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pp. 291-305

The possibility of a Christian philosophy was fiercely debated in the late 1920s and the early 1930s, especially in France, where several distinguished historians of philosophy, including Émile Bréhier, vigorously denied that there...

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22. Justification Today: A New Ecumenical Breakthrough: October 26, 1999

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pp. 306-317

One of the central themes of the New Testament, if not the central theme, is the way to obtain salvation. To be on the right road is, in New Testament terminology, to be justified. The corollary is that unless we are justified...

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23. The Papacy for a Global Church: March 22, 2000

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pp. 318-331

Until the late nineteenth century, the Catholic Church was predominantly geared to traditional societies that were stable and agrarian. To be a Catholic, in most cases, meant to be the heir of longstanding traditions...

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24. The Death Penalty: A Right-to-Life Issue?: October 17, 2000

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pp. 332-347

Among the major nations of the Western world, the United States is singular in still having the death penalty.1 After a five-year moratorium, from 1972 to 1977, capital punishment was reinstated in U.S. courts. Objections...

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25. Religious Freedom—a Developing Doctrine: March 21, 2001

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pp. 348-359

According to John Henry Newman, whose two hundredth birthday we celebrated exactly a month ago, Christianity came into the world as a single idea, but time was necessary for believers to perceive its multiple aspects...

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26. Christ Among the Religions: November 7, 2001

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pp. 360-372

The relations between the various religions of the world have often been hostile, and in many places they remain so today. When we pick up the daily newspaper, we can hardly avoid reading about conflicts between Jews...

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27. When to Forgive: April 10, 2002

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pp. 373-386

In his contribution to a recent volume on forgiveness, Martin Marty hazards the opinion that if there were a single word that expressed the very heart of the Christian message, it might well be ‘‘forgiveness.’’ Christians, he says, are called...

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28. The Population of Hell: November 20, 2002

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pp. 387-400

Sometimes the complaint is heard that no one preaches about hell any longer. The subject of hell, if not attractive, is at least fascinating, as any reader of Dante’s Inferno or Milton’s Paradise Lost can testify. Since our time...

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29. True and False Reform in the Church: April 23, 2003

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pp. 401-413

The long experience of the Catholic Church has included many seasons of decline and renewal. Throughout the centuries, the Church has striven by preaching and exhortation to help individual Christians reform their...

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30. John Paul II and the Mystery of the Human Person: October 21, 2003

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pp. 414-429

As the literary output of Pope John Paul II has accumulated, expanding almost beyond the assimilative powers of any one reader, and as he celebrates the silver jubilee of his pontificate, I have been asking myself, as I am sure...

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31. The Rebirth of Apologetics: March 2, 2004

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pp. 430-442

For the Christian it is axiomatic that faith is a gift of God, a grace. Since the Council of Orange in the sixth century, the Church has consistently taught that even the first beginnings of faith depend on the working of the Holy...

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32. A Eucharistic Church: The Vision of John Paul II: November 10, 2004

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pp. 443-454

Karol Wojtyla has always had a deep eucharistic piety. Each year since becoming pope he has written a letter to priests for Holy Thursday. In 2003 he released his most recent encyclical...

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33. How Real Is the Real Presence?: February 15, 2005

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pp. 455-467

Last fall, at the beginning of this year of the Eucharist, I devoted my McGinley Lecture to the subject ‘‘The Eucharist and the Church.’’ Because a number of the questions had to do with the real presence of Christ...

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34. Benedict XVI: Interpreter of Vatican II: October 25, 2005

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pp. 468-484

Like his predecessor John Paul II, Benedict XVI was present at all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. Whereas Karol Wojtyla, the future John Paul, took part as a bishop, the young Joseph Ratzinger...

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35. The Mission of the Laity: March 29, 2006

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pp. 485-496

In some past centuries it might almost have seemed that the laity had no mission. The Lord, it was said, had assigned the mission to evangelize the world to the apostles and their successors. Since the word apostle means someone sent...

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36. The Ignatian Charism at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century: November 29, 2006

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pp. 497-508

This lecture is intended to complete a series of four on the Jesuit founders whose jubilees are being celebrated this year. At Fordham we have had in 2006 one lecture on Saint Ignatius, one on Peter Faber, one on Francis...

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37. Evolution, Atheism, and Religious Belief: April 17, 2007

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pp. 509-521

During the second half of the nineteenth century, it became rather common to speak of a warfare between science and religion. 1 In the course of the twentieth century, the hostility gradually subsided. At the beginning...

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38. Who Can Be Saved?: November 7, 2007

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pp. 522-534

Nothing is more striking in the New Testament than the confidence with which it proclaims the saving power of belief in Christ. Almost every page confronts us with a decision of eternal consequence: Will we follow Christ...

McGinley Lectures Previously Published

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pp. 535-538


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pp. 539-546

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246908
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823228621
Print-ISBN-10: 0823228622

Page Count: 546
Publication Year: 2008