The Vatican has criticized a popular American nun after she published a book promoting homosexuals and masturbation.
Sister Margaret A. Farley wrote the award-winning book, ‘Just Love, a Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.’
However officials argue that her views contradict Catholic teaching and have warned believers to ignore her claims.
Farley writes that masturbation, particularly in the case of women, ‘usually does not raise any moral questions at all’ and that it ‘actually serves relationships rather than hindering them’.
The Vatican refutes Farley’s suggestion noting that the Church teaches that masturbation is ‘an intrinsically and gravely disordered action’.
In another passage, Farley states that ‘same-sex oriented persons as well as their activities can and should be respected’.
Yet Catholic doctrine states that while homosexual tendencies are not sinful, homosexual acts are ‘intrinsically disordered (and) contrary to the natural law’.
In a statement issued today Farley said: ‘I do not dispute the judgment that some of the positions contained within it are not in accord with current official Catholic teaching.’
‘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.’
The Vatican’s doctrinal department, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a stern “notification” about Sister Margaret A. Farley, a member of the Sisters of Mercy and a professor emeritus of Christian ethics at Yale University.
Two months ago the Vatican issued a stinging report saying the umbrella body representing most American Catholic nuns promoted radical feminist ideas and sometimes challenged bishops.
Today’s notification, signed by department head Cardinal William Levada, an American, and approved by Pope Benedict, sharply criticized Farley’s book.
The review of the book took years, as the Vatican repeatedly urged Farley to change her text to conform with church doctrine.
She refused, explaining in letters to Rome that the book was not intended to represent Church teachings but rather help readers move beyond a reflexive ‘taboo morality’ and think through sexual ethics in the context of justice, wisdom and love.
Several Catholic theologians also issued statements Monday supporting Farley and describing her as a serious scholar and insightful theologian.
Sister Patricia McDermott, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, expressed “profound regret” at the Vatican’s response to the book.