Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007
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.