Vatican Slams Book by Ex-Yale Theologian; Targets Sections Discussing Sexuality, Marriage, Divorce

By Shelton, Jim | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), June 5, 2012 | Go to article overview

Vatican Slams Book by Ex-Yale Theologian; Targets Sections Discussing Sexuality, Marriage, Divorce


Shelton, Jim, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


A Yale-affiliated theologian said Monday her controversial 2006 book about sexuality was intended as a proposal that might aid, not hurt, the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican, through an official "Notification" Monday by its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sternly criticized the book, "Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics," by Sister Margaret A. Farley, professor emerita at the Yale Divinity School.

The Vatican said the book "affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality."

Specifically, the Notification took issue with Farley's discussion of homosexuality, masturbation, divorce and remarriage after divorce.

But Farley claims the Notification "misrepresents" what was at the heart of the book -- that any morally appropriate sexual relationship rests on a foundation of justice.

Farley retired in 2007 after nearly 40 years on the Yale faculty. She is a member of the Sisters of Mercy and past president of the Society of Christian Ethics and the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Reached at her home Monday morning, Farley referred all questions to her official statement released through Yale.

In her statement, she said her book "was designed to help people, especially Christians but also others, to think through their questions about human sexuality. It suggests the importance of moving from what frequently functions as a taboo morality to a morality and sexual ethics based on the discernment of what counts as wise, truthful and recognizably just loves. Although my responses to some particular sexual ethical questions do depart from some traditional Christian responses, I have tried to show that they nonetheless reflect a deep coherence with the central aims and insights of these theological and moral traditions."

The Vatican has banned Catholic educators from using the book. In the Notification, it said Farley's work constituted a "grave harm to the faithful. …

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