Pope Benedict XVI met privately with Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University, at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie), in Yonkers, N.Y., on Saturday afternoon, April 19.
The meeting took place in the suite of Edward Cardinal Egan, the archbishop of New York, after the Pope had greeted a group of disabled Catholic youths. The Pope “bounded into the room with a big smile on his face,” according to Anne-Marie Kirmse, O.P., Cardinal Dulles’ assistant, who was present for the meeting. “He went directly to where Cardinal Dulles was sitting, saying, ‘Eminenza, Eminenza, I recall the work you did for the International Theological Committee in the 1990s,’ and Cardinal Dulles kissed the papal ring and smiled back at the Pope,” Sister Kirmse said.
The Pope also greeted Thomas R. Marciniak, S.J., of the Fordham Jesuit community, who served as Cardinal Dulles’ priest chaplain for the meeting, the Cardinal’s medical attendants, and Sister Kirmse, she said. The Pontiff then sat next to Cardinal Dulles to hear his prepared remarks, read by Father Marciniak. Cardinal Dulles has been in poor health recently and was unable to speak for himself.
Father Marciniak presented the Pope with a copy of Cardinal Dulles’s recent book, Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007 (Fordham University Press, 2008). The Pope expressed great interest in the book, Sister Kirmse said, and even interrupted the reading of the Cardinal’s remarks to ask again when the book had been published. The Pontiff eagerly looked through the book, and said he was touched by Cardinal Dulles’s inscription to him.
Before leaving, the Pope blessed Cardinal Dulles, assured him he was in the Pope’s prayers, and encouraged the Cardinal in his illness.