By a Staff Reporter A REPORT that Cardinal A• Heenan asked the Master General of the Dominican Order, Fr. Fernandes Aniceto, to re-instate Fr. Herbert McCabe as editor of New Blackfriars on condition that Fr. McCabe apologised for his remarks to the English Bishops was confirmed this week.
Fr. Hilary Carpenter,
adviser to the Master General for the English Province, said that the suggestion was made in a letter written in February. But he denied that the letter had been delivered by Archbishop Dwyer as reported in the Guardian.
"Archbishop Dwyer was in Rome recently," he said, "and he called on the Master General; there was nothing unusual in that. But any suggestion that he carried a letter from, or was acting as a sort of messenger for Cardinal Heenan, is unfounded."
Fr. Carpenter said that the Cardinal wrote the letter at the request of, and because of his
personal regard for, Fr. Conrad PepIer who had temporarily taken over the editorship of New Blackfriars. The Master General replied to Cardinal Heenan giving his reasons for not following the Cardinal's advice.
Westminster declined to comment on the matter.
In another reference to the McCabe case the Guardian published an open letter to the newly appointed editor of New Blackfriars, Fr, Pascal Lefebure, from Brian Wicker, a member of the Slant group and a radical Catholic writer.
In his letter Mr. Wicker said that he was writing it to "explain why I shall not be contributing to New Black friars after August when you take up your appointment."
He said that Fr. McCabe's dismissal "seems to me so deplorable in itself, and so important in its implications, that I cannot personally acquiesce in anything that seems to suggest acceptance of it.
"The announcement of your appointment comes hard upon the report that two new objections to Fr. McCabe's re instatement had been raised in England. Not only must Fr. McCabe retract his word 'corruption': he must also retract what he said about the bishops, and apologise for going to Charles Davis' wedding.
"This new twist to the story," Mr. Wicker said, "seems strangely contrary to the impression everyone has had until now that all attempts were being made to moderate the controversy and to encourage a spirit of reconciliation."
Mr. Wicker ended his letter by saying that other magazines "established in the same spirit" as New Blackfriars would now be receiving his contributions. "I don't know if that is a result desired by those who have managed to keep Fr. McCabe out of his job. I can hardly think so.
"But it is an inevitable result of trying to limit freedom of speech and writing, by intervention from above, in a society that has grown beyond that kind of censorship."
In his reply to Mr. Wicker's letter Fr. Lefebure said: "I cannot but profoundly sym
pathise with the rending of his loyalties and with the deep distress he, Mr. Charles Davis and other personal friends of Fr. Herbert McCabe feel, especially as my succeeding to Fr. McCabe's position is for me a matter of religious obedience."
Fr. Lefebure said that he hoped "in spite of his public, and very understandable gesture," that Mr. Wicker would "allow us the chance on his side of continuing the fight for truth within the Church."
In another Guardian letter on the subject, Fr. Giles Hibbert, a colleague of Fr. McCabe's, stated that "it is impossible for me in good conscience to remain a minister, and therefore a public representative of the Roman Church, without publicly acknowledging and repudiating the corruption and misrepresentation of the Gospel within the Church which has been brought out so clearly throughout this affair."
Fr. Hibbert said that he had no intention whatsoever of leaving the ministry. and emphasised that these views were "a purely personal statement."