Quite a number of readers have raised the question: Who is this “great theologian Bernard Haring” you mentioned in passing in last Tuesday’s column? One answer is in this tribute written by another theologian who got in trouble with the Vatican, Charles Curran. His remarks first came out in the National Catholic Reporter. Excerpts:
Haring’s moral theology was based on the covenant — the good news
of God’s loving gift for us and our grateful response. Christians are
called to growth and continual conversion in their moral life and in
their multiple relationships with God, neighbor, world and self. He
staunchly opposed any legalism that made God into a controller rather
than a gracious savior.
Two significant developments occurred in his moral theology. The
earlier Haring, as indicated by the title of The Law of Christ, still
saw law as the primary model of the Christian life. But in 1978 his new
three-volume moral theology, written this time in English, was titled
Free and Faithful in Christ, which indicates the move to a more
relational model for the moral life and the rejection of a legal model.
I think our understanding of sin today—-often summed up in the principle that one ought to be hard on the sin but compassionate on the sinner—-owes a lot to Haring’s work.