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Avery Dulles

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Avery Dulles
Avery Robert Dulles, S.J. (1918-2008) was a Jesuit priest, theologian, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and served as the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University from 1988 to 2008. He was an internationally known author and lecturer.

Dulles was born in Auburn, New York, the son of future U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (for whom Washington Dulles International Airport is named) and Janet Pomeroy Avery Dulles. His uncle was Director of Central Intelligence Allen Welsh Dulles. Both his great-grandfather John W. Foster and great-uncle Robert Lansing also served as U.S. Secretary of State.

He received his primary school education in New York City at the St. Bernard's School and attended secondary schools in Switzerland and The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Dulles was raised a Presbyterian but had become an agnostic by the time he began college at Harvard in 1936. His religious doubts were diminished during a personally profound moment when he stepped out into a rainy day and saw a tree beginning to flower along the Charles River; after that moment he never again "doubted the existence of an all-good and omnipotent God." He noted how his theism turned toward conversion to Catholicism: "The more I examined, the more I was impressed with the consistency and sublimity of Catholic doctrine." He converted to Catholicism in the fall of 1940.

After graduating from Harvard College in 1940, he spent a year and a half in Harvard Law School, where he also founded the "St. Benedict Center" (which would become well-known due to the controversial Fr. Leonard Feeney S.J.), before serving in the United States Navy, emerging with the rank of Lieutenant. For his liaison work with the French Navy, he was awarded the French Croix de guerre.

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