The grandson of a Presbyterian minister, he was the son of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who served under President Dwight Eisenhower. The cardinal's uncle was Allen Dulles, who led the Central Intelligence Agency, also in the Eisenhower administration.
A native of Auburn, N.Y., Avery Robert Dulles was a graduate of Harvard College and joined the Jesuits after he was discharged from the Navy in 1946. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1956, later earning a doctorate in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He served for 14 years as a professor at The Catholic University in America, becoming an internationally known lecturer, then joined the Fordham faculty in 1988 in New York.The author of over 750 articles on theological topics, Cardinal Dulles has published twenty-three books including Models of the Church (1974), Models of Revelation (1983), The Catholicity of the Church (1985), The Craft of Theology: From Symbol to System (1992), The Assurance of Things Hoped For: A Theology of Christian Faith (1994), The Splendor of Faith: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II (1999; revised in 2003 for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the papal election), The New World of Faith (2000), Newman (2002). His latest book, a revised edition of The History of Apologetics, (revised edition, 2005), and Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith (2007). The fiftieth anniversary edition of his book, A Testimonial to Grace, the account of his conversion to Catholicism, was republished in 1996 by the original publishers, Sheed and Ward, with an afterword containing his reflections on the fifty years since he became a Catholic. He was one of America's greatest theologians.