In a notification dated March 30, 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated that the book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics” written by Sister Margaret A. Farley, RSM, contains “erroneous propositions, the dissemination of which risks grave harm to the faithful.”
In her 2006 book, the CDF states that Sr. Farley—now retired from the faculty at Yale Divinity School—“does not present a correct understanding of the role of the Church’s Magisterium as the teaching authority of the Bishops united with the Successor of Peter, which guides the Church’s ever deeper understanding of the Word of God as found in Holy Scripture and handed on faithfully in the Church’s living tradition.”
In addition, Sr. Farley’s treatment of specific moral issues—including masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage, and the problem of divorce and remarriage—are erroneous and ambiguous. The CDF notes:
…either ignores the constant teaching of the Magisterium or, where it is occasionally mentioned, treats it as one opinion among others. Such an attitude is in no way justified, even within the ecumenical perspective that she wishes to promote. Sr. Farley also manifests a defective understanding of the objective nature of the natural moral law, choosing instead to argue on the basis of conclusions selected from certain philosophical currents or from her own understanding of “contemporary experience”. This approach is not consistent with authentic Catholic theology.
Because Sr. Farley’s affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality, the notification states:
The Congregation warns the faithful that her book Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics 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. Furthermore the Congregation wishes to encourage theologians to pursue the task of studying and teaching moral theology in full concord with the principles of Catholic doctrine.
While the focus of the notification is the content of Sr. Farley’s book, The Motley Monk notes that Pope Benedict XVI approved it and ordered its publication.
Might this notification, approved and ordered before what The Motley Monk called the “hostile takeover” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, provide another signal that the Vatican is going to take a more activist stance in “truth in labeling”?
The warning is gentle, but it’s there.
The CDF wants to “encourage theologians to pursue the task of studying and teaching moral theology in full concord with the principles of Catholic doctrine.”
To read the CDF’s notification, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s post on the hostile takeover of the LCWR, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link: