From Mr Anthony McCarthy Sir, Heather Buttery writes (February 14) that "the soul must precede the body" if the spiritual soul is the "form" of the body, and that it is not "added on" at some later stage.
The term "precede" might be taken to imply that the soul in some sense "preexists" the body. However, the Church teaches that the human soul does not preexist its union with the human body. As Aquinas says: "...it is clear that God made the first things in their perfect natural state, as their species required. Now the soul, as a part of human nature, has its natural perfection only as united to the body. Therefore it would have been unfitting for the soul to be created without the body'.
Miss Buttery then asks the question: "Can we seriously suggest that a spiritual soul is somehow invoked at the instant that an electric current is switched on at the whim of a technician?"
I believe that we can. Just as parents cannot give souls to their offspring, so no doctor or technician can produce a human soul. Only God can create souls. However, when human biological materials are in place, they are in a condition to receive a rational soul from God. Gad does create new souls when humans sin (through fornication, rape, incest, IVF).
A human soul can only be made in the image of God, because only God can create such a soul. The evil inherent in cloning is, as the Vatican says, that it reduces the human person to a mere object. Note that the Vatican refers to a "person" here (i.e. an ensouled human being). The attempt to produce human clones is wrong not least because it treats human beings made in the image of God in a way that fails to honour their inherent dignity.
Yours faithfully, ANTHONY MCCARTHY Research Fellow Linacre Centre Author of Explaining Catholic Teaching on Cloning (Linacre/CTS, forthcoming)