Vatican Criticizes Book by American Nun

Point Out Issues Not in Conformity With Church Teaching

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2012 ( The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today published a notification about a book “Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics” by Sister of Mercy Margaret A. Farley.

The American sister’s book «is not in conformity with the teaching of the Church. Consequently it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue,» the notification warned.

The note was signed by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and has been approved by the Holy Father.

According to the note, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to Sister Farley on March 29, 2010, enclosing a preliminary evaluation of the book and indicating the doctrinal problems it saw in the text.

“The response of Sr. Farley, dated October 28, 2010, did not clarify these problems in a satisfactory manner,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith note stated.

A further evaluation of the book was made by a commission of experts and on June 8, 2011, the Ordinary Session of the Congregation confirmed that the book contained erroneous propositions.

Following this a letter was sent to the then president of Sister Farley’s congregation with a list of the book’s errors, asking her to invite Sisterr Farley to correct them.

On Oct. 3, 2011, Sister Patricia McDermott, who in the meantime had succeeded Sister Mary Waskowiak as president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, forwarded to the Congregation the response of Sister Farley, together with her own opinion and that of Sister Waskowiak.

This response was examined by a commission of experts and was submitted to the CDF Ordinary Session for judgment on Dec. 14, 2011. “On this occasion, the Members of the Congregation, considering that Sr. Farley’s response did not adequately clarify the grave problems contained in her book, decided to proceed with the publication of this Notification,” the note stated.


The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explained that on a number of topics Sister Farley “either ignores the constant teaching of the Magisterium or, where it is occasionally mentioned, treats it as one opinion among others. … Sr. Farley also manifests a defective understanding of the objective nature of the natural moral law.”

«Among the many errors and ambiguities of this book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage.”

Regarding homosexual acts the books states: «My own view… is that same-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities. Therefore, same-sex oriented persons as well as their activities can and should be respected whether or not they have a choice to be otherwise.»

“This opinion is not acceptable,” the Congregation’s note explained. It quoted the Catechism, which asks for respect for persons with homosexual tendencies, but “the Catechism also points out that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” Under no circumstances can they be approved, the Catechism affirms.

The Notification also addressed Sister Farley’s opinion that divorced people may remarry, saying: «This view contradicts Catholic teaching that excludes the possibility of remarriage after divorce. … In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ, … the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was.»

“With this Notification, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expresses profound regret that a member of an Institute of Consecrated Life, Sr. Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M., affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality,” the note concluded.

— — —

On the Net:

Full text of the notification:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation