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Cardinal says attacks give church chance to influence mainstream culture

The recent terrorist attacks in the United States are an opportunity for the Catholic Church to significantly influence American culture, said Cardinal Avery Dulles, an internationally recognised US Jesuit theologian.

The terrorist attacks have the potential to "shake us out of our individualism, hedonism and consumerism," he said.

Historically, US Catholics have not had a major impact on US culture and many have succumbed to its negative consumerism, opening up a chasm between their faith and their American culture, he said.

The immigration flows from culturally Catholic areas such as Latin America also have the potential for increasing the church's influence on American culture, he said.

Cardinal Dulles, a professor at Fordham University in New York, was speaking on Tuesday at the John Paul II Cultural Centre in Washington on "The Impact of the Catholic Church on American Culture".