Nun’s sex ethics book runs foul of Vatican

2012-06-04 15:27
The Vatican’s watchdog for faith issues has condemned a book on sexual ethics by a US nun, for reportedly expressing favourable views on masturbation and same-sex unions.

In a notification made public today, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) highlighted parts of Just Love by Sister Margaret Farley, which it said “is not in conformity with the teaching of the (Catholic) Church.”

“Among the many errors and ambiguities in this book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage,” the
five-page statement said.

The CDF said the notification, which has been approved by Pope Benedict XVI, intends to warn the faithful that the book, “cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counselling and formation, or in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.”

Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics was published in 2006. As well as being a nun, Farley is also a Yale University professor.

The CDF said that following an initial examination of the book, it had written to Farley in 2010 and 2011 indicating the doctrinal problems present in the text and asking her to clarify her position, but had received unsatisfactory.

Farley in her reaction acknowledged that her response to some sexual ethical questions “do depart from some traditional Christian responses”.

But in remarks quoted by the US-based National Catholic Reporter, the Sisters of Mercy nun said she had “tried to show that they nonetheless reflect a deep coherence with the central aims and insights of these theological and moral traditions.”

The CDF’s notification “misrepresents – perhaps unwittingly – the aims of my work and the nature of it as a proposal that might be in service of, not against, the church and its faithful people,” Farley added.