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Cardinal Avery Dulles, a Presbyterian who converted to Roman Catholicism and rose to pre-eminence in Catholic theology, becoming the only American theologian ever appointed to the College of Cardinals, died on Friday at Fordham University in the Bronx, where he had taught. He was 90.

Dulles, a professor of religion at Fordham for the past 20 years, was a prolific author and lecturer and an elder statesman of Catholic theology in America. He was the son of John Foster Dulles, who was secretary of state under President Dwight Eisenhower, and the nephew of Allen Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

A conservative theologian in an era of liturgical reforms and rising secularism, Dulles wrote 27 books and 800 articles, mostly on theology; advised the Vatican and America's bishops; and defended the pope and his church against demands for change on abortion, birth control, priestly celibacy and the ordination of women.