Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., delivered the 36th McGinley Lecture to a capacity crowd at Fordham Preparatory School’s Leonard Theatre on November 29. Cardinal Dulles was introduced by Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, and spoke to an audience including Peter Gerety, former archbishop of Newark and Thomas Daily, former bishop of Brooklyn.
The Cardinal’s theme, “The Ignatian Charism at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century,” spoke to the continued relevance of the Jesuit order in an increasingly fast-paced and secular world. He identified a charism as a “gift of grace for the benefit of others” and said that the Jesuits should continue to abide by the founding principles of Saint Ignatius, the foremost being a “life of evangelical poverty…which is at the heart of all Jesuit apostolates.”
Cardinal Dulles said that the Church and Society of Jesus face many of the same challenges that Ignatius and his followers did in the 16th Century: rapid change, “globalization,” a divide between Christendom and Islam, and defections from Catholicism to other forms of Christianity. “The charism is not outdated,” he said. “The Society can be abreast of the times if it adheres to its original ideals.”
The lecture coincided with the final week of the Ignatian calendar, and was the last of the Cardinal’s talks concerning the central figures in the founding of the Jesuit order. 2006 also marked a half-century since Cardinal Dulles’ ordination, and his twentieth year at Fordham. It has also been five years since Cardinal Dulles was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II, the first American–born theologian not a bishop to be honored with the rank. He has been the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham since 1988.