More on the “instruction”: Sr. Margaret Farley, RSM fires back…

It didn’t take long for the New York Times to report a statement issued by Sister Margaret Farley, RSM, whose 2006 book concerning sexual ethics was deemed unfit for Catholic consumption.

In her statement, Sr. Farley wrote:

I can only clarify that 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.

Sr. Farley is a crafty thinker.  Note her use of the phrase “official Catholic teaching.”

Invoking that phrase, Sr. Farley communicates something subtle: She was not intending to write a book that would reflect what the Vatican teaches.

Crafty indeed!

What Sr. Farley is distinguishing between is what the Vatican teaches about sexual ethics and what she believes is an authentically Catholic sexual ethics.

At the same time, however, those who serve on Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) also happen to be clever.  Its members possess decades of experience in spotting such crafty linguistic games.

The Motley Monk thinks this distinction earned Sr. Farley a slap on the wrist.  After all, the CDF’s instruction makes clear there is no authentic Catholic teaching that is not official Catholic teaching.

In contrast, Sr. Farley would like others to believe that her book is eminently suitable for Catholics, even though it does not present official Church teachings. That’s unacceptable to the CDF.

Consequently, if Sr. Farley wants to write ecumenical theology, she remains free to do so.  But if her theology does not square with the teaching of the Magisterium, then Sr. Farley should expect that the CDF will not allow Sr. Farley—or any Catholic theologian who plays the same crafty linguistic game—to pass her speculations off as suitable for Catholics.

In short, “Just Love” is not suitable for Catholics to use to form their consciences.

 

 

To read the New York Times article, click on the following link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/us/sister-margaret-farley-denounced-by-vatican.html?_r=2&hp

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
 http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

30 Responses to More on the “instruction”: Sr. Margaret Farley, RSM fires back…

  • In an earlier day and age a person who advocates sexual perversion would be given a chance to repent, and failing that would be publicly excommunicated perhaps in a terribly painful and mortal way. I am certainly not advancing the idea of painfully and mortally excommunicating this heretic. However, there is a reaon why God commanded the Children of Israel to wipe out all the pagans from the Promised Land: exposure brings contamination.

    BTW, why is it that lesbians are almost always horrificly ugly?

  • As i wrote yesterday, Sr Farley made no contribution to a genuinely feminine contribution to human sexuality, which may be lacking since the field is dominated my celibate males. i said MAY be lacking, it has been said often, she had a chance and missed, unless the celibate men at the CDF overlooked it.

  • Your last line seems wrong. Did you mean to write, “Just Love is NOT suitable for Catholics to use to form their consciences”? Perhaps you meant that it is suitable in the “it is good to expose yourself to false teachings so you know what is not true” sort of way. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case though.

  • Thanks for the “heads up.” I’ve corrected the error.

  • ” statement, Sr. Farley wrote:

    I can only clarify that 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 word ‘current’ reveals an ignorant disregard for the Gospel, the Magisterium, and all that can be ascribed to the words Catholic and love. Maybe the ‘current’ reveals her hope for a change that would immortalize her as a forerunner.

  • Fire Marshall Biff Lohman of the Wacko County, New Jersey Department of Fire Safety, has written and published a handbook for homeowners and renters called Conflagration Your Way! in which he dismisses traditional concerns about running power through wires with frayed insulation, and about storing flammable substances such as gasoline in open containers. He also advocates a rather unorthodox method to bring a charcoal fire up to cooking temperature rapidly: light your charcoal, then after your fire has been going for a minute or two, squirt lighter fluid directly onto the coals from a distance of three feet.

    In several interviews and articles, Lohman has repeatedly stated that Conflagration Your Way! is not intended to represent trends in thinking among the current, official fire safety community.

    “But,” Lohman philosophizes, “how many of those other guys have been knocked unconscious by a flaming ceiling beam crashing down on their head? Not many!”

    “Those who haven’t woken up in the burn unit or head trauma room have little business telling the rest of us about the safe ways to handle fire and ignitable substances!”

  • I am eagerly awaiting sister’s impending, unintended reinterpretation of Church teaching on etrenal damnation.

  • “Current” official Catholic teaching. So, either she’s a bad researcher who thinks that the Church has changed its teachings in the past, or she’s bad at ecclesiology and thinks that the Church will change its teachings in the future. Or she’s a bad writer who doesn’t chose her words carefully. Whichever the case, I’m not gonna buy her book.

  • Nope…professor emerita from Yale Divinity School.

  • excuse me, same church, different pew. I loved J Pelikan’s volumes, sad he did not understand his own scholarship and became Orthodox instead of coming all the way home.

  • I think what she’s trying to do with her statement is create the impression that this is a book on sexual ethics that just happens to be written by a nun & really no concern of the Church at all … in which case, nice try sister! but you know it won’t fly … the writings of any religious are liable to Church approval … I wonder what will happen if sister is told that all future writings require approval of a Church appointed censor?

  • After all, the CDF’s instruction makes clear there is no authentic Catholic teaching that is not official Catholic teaching.

    Looks like she’ll have to crack open the thesaurus to further the spin. Maybe “genuine Catholic teaching”?

  • Doctor and Rev Sister Margaret Farley is a scholar and a loving, caring nun and teacher. I have read her book a few years ago and fail to see the justification for the uproar from the Vatican. Why would the “official teaching of the Roman Catholic Magisterium” possibly be so vehemently opposed to LOVE? I just do not get it. The major truth that I found in Dr. Farley’s clear and well-written book was focused on the constructive principles of LOVE. Jesus Christ’s teaching were focused on “Just Love.” The reactions of the CDF and some of the narrow-minded thinking expressed in some of the comments here are focused on judgment and condemnation and even bitter calls for “burning the heretic.” I cannot see for the life of me where Jesus’ teachings are reflected in the work of the CDF or in the scandal brewing from the Pope’s papers being circulated in the Italian press recently. Margaret Farley is asking readers to think about the truth about JUST LOVING. The CDF is preoccupied with the scandal of negative administration taking place recently in the walls of the Vatican. Which is closer to Jesus Christ and His beautiful and caring and loving teachings?

  • Why would the “official teaching of the Roman Catholic Magisterium” possibly be so vehemently opposed to LOVE?

    Rolls eyes.

    It’s lovely that you can reduce a very serious discussion about faith, morals, and the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church to a series of cliches that could be found in a Hallmark card, but this is utterly vapid. There is no love in telling people what they want to hear as opposed to what they need to hear.

  • PZ: It is all cliches. This is how the left cheats in the war of ideas.

    Seems, cw doesn’t know that Love (along with Faith and Hope) is a Spiritual Virtue and is far different from a gratitous, sterile, or unnatural orgasm. I bet sister doesn’t get it, either.

    The Spiriual Works of Mercy:

    Instruct the ignorant.

    Counsel the doubtful.

    Admonsh the sinner.

  • Cwagner’s comment is that of a typical liberal for whom love is defined as giving assent for and advocacy of sexual perversion, murdering of babies, and the fornication and adultery that goes part and parcel with the contraceptive lifestyle.

    Jesus does NOT give assent to sexual perversion, nor to baby murdering, nor to contraception, and people who do those things (even worse, people who advocate doing those things) and don’t repent will find themselves burning forever and ever in hell because they have foresaken the love of the Cross, that is to say self-denial which to a liberal is a four letter word.

    What planet do liberals come from?

  • Sr. Farley and her companions seem to have forgotten: “Just because you have God’s unconditional love does not mean that you have His unconditional approval”

  • Cwagner,

    with all due respect, to reduce our Lord’s teaching to ‘just love’ is soundbite theology. He did indeed tell us to love one another, but he also said a great deal more … much of which was about sin, including sexual sin.

    Incidentally, part of what Sr Farley is called to as a ‘loving, caring nun’ is to love, cherish, protect, & disseminate what the Church teaches. To otherwise is neither loving nor caring.

  • Cwagner – It doesn’t even seem like Sister Farley herself considered her book to be an accurate description of Catholic teaching. She may be loving and caring, but you also called her a “teacher”. Don’t you agree that her book could cause some confusion if it’s taken as authentic Catholic teaching?

    I haven’t read the book. If it could be perceived as describing the Catholic viewpoint correctly, but doesn’t do so, then it’s reasonable for Catholic officials to point that out.

  • Liberals ignore what Scripture says about holiness in all their hype about “love.”

    “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

    “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

    “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

    “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

    “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Philippians 3:15

    “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Ephesians 1:4 (note that holiness comes first)

    “That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27

    “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:18-25

    “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

    —–

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about conversion away from and repentance of sins. It is NOT about this hippie-yippie luvy-duvy “approve of my sex habits or you’re being mean to me” mentality. He came to save souls from hell, not to give assent to sexual perversion under the false guise of “if you don’t, then your being unkind.”

    Holiness before the Lord God is NOT an option. Without holiness, no one can see God. And what this fruit cake nit wit of a nun advocates is the exact opposite of holiness.

    Justice begins and ends with holiness and righteousness. Love blossoms because of holiness and righteousness. If you’re not trying to live a holy and righteous life, then all you’re squawking about love is mindless noise.

  • Jesus’ Love: Self sacrificing of oneself towards the beloved for their good.

    Liberal Love: Self Pleasure of whatever rocks your boat saecula saecolorum!

  • As a member of LCWR, and as LCWR has not distanced themselves from her or any of her works, it sure seems that Margaret Field and LCWR are trying to set up a separate Magisterium of nuns, a Magisterium that says “forget Catholic, this is the church of what’s happnen now!”

  • “I can only clarify that 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.” Umm… what genre would that be, sister??

  • Sr Farley’s tactic is not new, as can be seen from some of the propositions of the casuists, condemned by Pope Innocent XI on 4 March 1679

    For example

    “ 48. Thus it seems clear that fornication by its nature involves no malice, and that it is evil only because it is forbidden, so that the contrary seems entirely in disagreement with reason.

    49. Voluptuousness is not prohibited by the law of nature. Therefore, if God had not forbidden it, it would be good, and sometimes obligatory under pain of mortal sin.”

    As the Holy Office tersely expressed it, “All condemned and prohibited, as they are here expressed, at least as scandalous and in practice pernicious.”

    I would only add that I prefer the old succinct and precise method of condemning errors, to the present discursive productions of the CDF, but that is a minor point

  • “Which is closer to Jesus Christ and His beautiful and caring and loving teachings?”

    Jesus condemned entire cities to hell (see Mt. 11:23). It’s not all rainbows and lollipops. In fact there’s very little of that.

    I think the difference between people who confuse moral indifference for love is really simple: one group hasn’t actually read the Gospels, and the other has.

  • I’ll also add that what the liberal media decries as a modern-day Inquisition strikes me as a series of half-measures.

    If they think the current pope is mean, I can’t even imagine what they would say if I were in charge. The rack might be back in business.

  • “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

    “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

    “But as he WHO hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

    “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father WHO is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
    “WHO” DENOTES THE PERSON OF GOD, FATHER, SON AND HOLY GHOST.

    Mary, which writes this comment, must be addressed as WHO, because Mary is created in the image and likeness of God, the Supreme Sovereign Being.

    If Sister Farley does not love God, Sister Farley does not love man.

  • Jesus Christ is a virgin. If sister Farley has a problem with that, it is her problem, not Jesus Christ’s problem or the Catholic Church’s problem. That Sister Farley cannot accept the virginity of Jesus Christ is Sister Farley’s problem, the NYT’s problem, homosexuals problem and all dissenters problem.

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