THE letters re Professor Haring from Dr. Norris and J. McGibbon (December 8) illustrate the dangers of a report which is too brief and out of context. I should advise these two correspondents in justice to Fr. Haring to read his views more fully and in greater depth, as expounded in his recent book "Medical Ethics" (complete with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat).
Briefly, as regards there not being a human person in the first few days after fertilisation, Fr. Hering is not referring to the biological situation (about which he has demonstrated a most detailed and up-to-date knowledge) but is speculating on the probable time of ensoulment.
The official views of the Church on this subject have altered in previous centuries as a result of just such speculation by earlier theologians in the light of biological knowledge then available, and Fr. Hering is offering new ideas in the light of present knowledge.
If I may quote a fascinating phenomenon which he mentions in his book: "Twinning in the human may occur up to the 14th day, when conjoined twins can still be produced. Less well known is the fact that in these first few days the twins or triplets may he recombined into one individual being." (A. E. Hellegers; "Foetal Development"; theological studies, 1970.)
Just consider for a few moments what the souls are doing during this biological circus.
Fr. Hering's thoughts on the development of the cerebral cortex and its relationship to the soul are: equally interesting.
Far from rejecting the Church's teaching on abortion, Fr. Hering states clearly: "I insist that the presumption is in favour of the teaching office of the magisterium. A doubt by some theologians does not invalidate the official position, later discussions may even strengthen it and bring forth more convincing arguments." ("Medical Ethics"; Bernard Hering, 1972.) Dr. A. Clancy 9 Hall Lane Manchester M23 8AQ
IKNOW a parish priest in London who tore up all his Nov. 24 copies of the CATHOLIC HERALD, that hadn't been ordered, because of the publicity given on your front page to the heretical teachings of Fr. Hering. But I wonder if he did the wisest thing.
Surely we must know, and make known, what lecturers like Fr. Haring are propagating. so that our hierarchy can condemn them publicly to protect their flocks, and we Catholic parents can try to forewarn and protect our youngsters. But what a sad commentary it is on the sorry state of the Church today.
(Mrs.) Daphne McLeod 13 Loraine Gardens Ashtead, Surrey
I AM sure that anything Dont ▪ Benedict Heron writers
always merits close attention, and his letter of December 1 is no exception.
1 think his strictures upon the attitude of English Catholics in pre-Vatican II days is justifiable. Many years ago a Catholic priest told me that the Anglican Chterch was "a blot on Christendom." It is only fair to add that we became firm friends, and for a long time he was happy regularly to receive from me a copy of what claims to be the leading Anglican religious weekly!
Dom Benedict writes of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is well to remember diet whether in this country of overseas, Dr. Ramsey speaks for no one but himself. There is •no authority in the Church of England, it is the result of the Elizabethan Settlement, and even the Lambeth Conference has no legislative authority. Erastianism is in the very blood of Anglicanism.
I am confident that only a tiny segment of Anglican opinion seeks re-union with Rome; the mass of Anglicans, Evangelicals and so-called eAnglo-Catholics" alike, have no desire for reconciliation with the Holy See. The attitude of the second class of people was first brought home to me many years ago, and I have since been confirmed in the belief I then formed.
Of course it is time that Catholics arid Anglicans meet and co-operate in ways unheard of in comparatively recent times: the monastery in which I spent nearly sixteen years has for long hospitably entertained V.I.P. Catholics, lout closes its doors to your humble correspondent, whom St. Peter, but last year, graciously admitted to what Newman averred was "the only true Church of Christ."
But, Sir, Anglicans are not consistent : were they so, they would no longer be Anglicans!
Gerald M. Bird Paxhill Pa.rk House Lindfield, Sussex