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Bernard Häring

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Bernard Häring

Bernard Häring (10 November 1912 – 3 July 1998) was German Roman Catholic theologian, and a Redemptorist priest.


Häring was born at Böttingen in Germany to a peasant family. At the age of 12, he entered the seminary. Later, he took vows as a Redemptorist, was ordained a priest, and sent as a missionary to Brazil. He studied moral theology in obedience to his superiors.

During World War II, he was conscripted by the German army and served as a medic. Although forbidden from performing priestly functions by the Nazi authorities, he brought the sacraments to Catholic soldiers.

In 1954, he came to fame as a moral theologian with his three volumed, The Law of Christ. The work received ecclesiatical approval but was written in a style different from the Manual Tradition. It was translated into more than 12 languages.

Between 1949 and 1987, he taught Moral theology on Accademia Alfonsiana in Rome.

He served as a peritus at the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965, and was on the mixed commission which prepared the pastoral constitution, Gaudium et Spes.

Häring taught at various universities including the University of San Francisco, Fordham, Yale, Brown, Temple, and the Kennedy Institute for Bioethics at Georgetown.

A prolific writer, Häring produced about 80 books and 1,000 articles.

He died of a stroke at the age of 85 at Gars am Inn, Germany.

Häring established himself as a leader in moving Catholic moral theology to a more personalist and scripture-based approach.

Dialogic leitmotif in Catholic moral theology

Bernard Häring, presents a dialogic approach to Catholic moral theology in Free and Faithful in Christ and The Law of Christ. In this approach, morality follows the pattern of faith i.e. a dialogue. This approach to morality rests on the freedom of the person's conscience that acknowledges God as basis of value. "God speaks in many ways to awaken, deepen and strengthen faith, hope, love and the spirit of adoration. We are believers to the extent that, in all of reality and in all events that touch us, we perceive a gift and a call from God." [1]

Works (selection)

  • The Law of Christ . Moral Theology for Priests and Laity. 3 Vols. Ireland: The Mercier Press 1961, Reprinted 1967 [german 1954]
  • Blessed Are the Pure in Heart : The Beatitudes
  • The Christ : God-With-Us
  • The Christian Existentialist
  • Church on the Move
  • Dare to Be Christian : Developing a Social Conscience
  • Discovering God's Mercy : Confession Helps for Today's Catholic
  • Embattled Witness : Memories of a Time of War
  • The Ethics of Manipulation
  • The Eucharist and Our Everyday Life
  • Shalom, Peace
  • Free and Faithful in Christ ( 3 Vols.)


External links

  • Obituary in NYT
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