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Sexuality and the Catholic Church

posted by Candice Scharf

This past week the Catholic Church denounced Sister Margaret A. Farley, an American nun and professor of Christian Ethics at Yale Divinity School, for her book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. The Church claims that the theological rationale discussed in her book for same-sex relationships, divorce, and masturbation are “not consistent with authentic Catholic theology.”  Laurie Goodstein and Rachel Donadio, of The New York Times, explain:

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.”

The dean of Yale Divinity School, Harold W. Attridge, a Catholic layman, and the president of the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Patricia McDermott, issued statements in support of Sister Farley. So did 15 fellow scholars who, in a document released by the divinity school, testified to Sister Farley’s Catholic credentials and the influence she has had in the field of moral theology.

Cardinal Levada’s statement about the book, dated March 30 but released on Monday, said that it “cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.” Pope Benedict XVI approved the statement’s contents and ordered its publication, it said. The statement comes as the Vatican struggles to contain a controversy over leaked documents that showed infighting and mismanagement in the papacy of Benedict XVI, who on Sunday concluded a three-day meeting in Milan to promote family values.

Read the full article here.

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One Response to “Sexuality and the Catholic Church”

  1. avatar Patrick says:

    Of course, in practice this very public rebuke has earned the book far more positive attention and sales than it would have had otherwise. Its ranking on Amazon spiked hugely.

    More substantively it saddens me that the Vatican doesn’t consider contemporary biological, social, and cognitive sciences relevant in what should be considered “natural moral law.” But then, it seems that the purpose of “natural law” in the Catholic Church is naturalizing het, cis, male privilege.

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