SISTER ACT

Catholic Nun Denouced For Book About Sex, Gay Marriage, Masturbation

Back in the Dark Ages, the Church was the only place where literacy and scholarship were valued. But it seems like things have reversed themselves, as the Vatican’s doctrinal office has denounced an American nun for writing a book reconciling same-sex relationships, masturbation other taboo topics.

On Monday,  the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics by Sister Margaret Farley—who teaches Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School and is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America—was “not consistent with authentic Catholic theology,” and should be eschewed by good Christians.

But unlike Pope Benedict, Farley never claimed to be infallible—or to speak for the whole Church. In a statement she clarified that the book “was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether,” one that utilizes “present-day scientific, philosophical, theological, and biblical resources.”

In Just Love, Farley never indicated she thought the Church was wrong or that it should change its tenets. She did make an ethical case, though, for how same-sex marriage “can also be important in transforming the hatred, rejection, and stigmatization of gays and lesbians” and that gay relationships “can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities.”

The Vactican said Farley’s take on gay marriage  “is not acceptable,”  nor were her views that divorce and female masturbation have their place, as well. (We imagine those last two go hand in hand, so to speak.)

The Vatican said this assessment contradicted church teaching that “the deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose

As The New York Times reports, the Church didn’t come to its censure of Farley rashly:

The Vatican’s doctrinal office, led by an American, Cardinal William J. Levada, has spent more than two years reviewing Sister Farley’s book, which was published in 2006. The office first notified Sister Farley’s superior of its concerns in March 2010, and said it had opened a further investigation because a response she had sent to the Vatican in October 2010 had not been “satisfactory.” It said her book had “been a cause of confusion among the faithful.”

A Vatican spokesman said there will be no formal sanctions against Sister Farley—mainly because she’s retiring.

This is just the latest attack on Brides of Christ: Last year, a committee of United States bishops condemned Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God. And, more recently, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rebuked  the 57,000-member Leadership Conference of Women Religious for being too “radical.”

Man, we always thought it was the nuns who were supposed to be the mean sons-of-bitches.

Photo: Yale Divinity, Kevin Dooley