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Vatican Denouces Sister Margaret A. Farley Over Book on Sexuality

 
 
Miller
 
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2012 03:15 pm
June 4, 2012
Vatican Denounces Nun Over Book on Sexuality

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN and RACHEL DONADIO

The Vatican’s doctrinal office on Monday denounced an American nun who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School for a book that attempted to present a theological rationale for same-sex relationships, masturbation and remarriage after divorce.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that the book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” by Sister Margaret A. Farley, was “not consistent with authentic Catholic theology,” and should not be used by Roman Catholics.

Sister Farley, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar, responded in a statement: “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 book, she said, offers “contemporary interpretations” of justice and fairness in human sexual relations, moving away from a “taboo morality” and drawing on “present-day scientific, philosophical, theological, and biblical resources.”

The formal censure comes only weeks after the same Vatican office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a stinging reprimand of the main coordinating organization of American nuns, prompting many Catholics across the country to turn out in defense of the nuns with protests, petitions and vigils.

The nuns’ organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, said on Friday that its board had declared that the Vatican’s accusations were “unsubstantiated,” and that it was sending its leaders to Rome to make its case. Three bishops have been appointed by the Vatican to supervise a total overhaul of the nuns’ organization.

The censure of Sister Farley, who belongs to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, is the second time recently that a book by an American nun has been denounced by the church’s hierarchy. In 2011, the doctrine committee of U.S. bishops condemned “Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God,” by Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, a professor of theology at Fordham University in New York.

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 hadn’t 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, “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.”

He said that the book “cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.” The statement said Pope Benedict XVI had approved its contents and ordered its publication. It comes as the Vatican struggles to contain a controversy over leaked documents that have shown infighting and mismanagement in the papacy of Benedict XVI, who on Sunday concluded a three-day meeting in Milan to promote family values.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican had not called for any sanctions against Sister Farley and was not expected to do so because she has retired from teaching. He added that it was “quite normal” that documents signed by Vatican offices are published much later than when they were signed, according to “internal bureaucratic and organizational needs."

Sister Farley’s book finds moral and theological justifications for same-sex marriage, which aside from abortion, has become the major galvanizing political and moral issue for American bishops. The statement took Sister Farley to task for writing that same-sex marriage “can also be important in transforming the hatred, rejection, and stigmatization of gays and lesbians.” She wrote that “same-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities.”

“This opinion is not acceptable,” the Vatican statement said. It said that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity” that are “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.” It said that Sister Farley’s assertion that sometimes divorce is a reasonable option for couples who have grown apart contradicted church teaching on the “indissolubility of marriage.”

The statement quoted liberally from some of the racier passages in “Just Love,” including ones in which Sister Farley writes that female masturbation “usually does not raise any moral questions at all.” She adds that “many women” have found “great good in self-pleasuring – perhaps especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure – something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers.”

The Vatican said that this assessment contradicts church teaching that “the deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.

Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting
NYTimes
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2012 04:07 pm
@Miller,
What do you suppose the Vatican thinks of "50 Shades of Grey"? May be the boys in Rome need a little erotic fiction, to stir up their juices...
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  3  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2012 06:33 pm
Please, let us all find ways of supporting these women as they find ways of extricating themselves from this bloated, hypocritical morass known as the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
I hope they excuse themselves en mass, no pun intended.
Every practicing Catholic should speak out against theses men who haven't a clue as what the mission of Christ on Earth is or ever was.

Ask yourself not "What would Jesus do?" Ask yourself "What did Jesus do?"

and then ask yourself if you think the Church in it's present state can continue the work of tending to the poor, healing the sick, comforting the afflicted and creating a communion of souls to serve God and Mankind.

All the sisters should leave now before they are further tainted by this institution.

Joe(I can only speak here. I am no longer any type of person of faith)Nation
George
 
  4  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2012 07:20 pm
http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-ak-snc4/276760_382844555085626_1892723944_n.jpg
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 10:58 am
@Joe Nation,
Joe Nation wrote:

Please, let us all find ways of supporting these women as they find ways of extricating themselves from this bloated, hypocritical morass known as the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
I hope they excuse themselves en mass, no pun intended.
Every practicing Catholic should speak out against theses men who haven't a clue as what the mission of Christ on Earth is or ever was.



In my opinion, Catholics should just ask themselves if the Church can be reformed from the inside, the same question that led to the Reformation. I do not think this question will be asked, since there is some sort of great import assigned to belonging to a world-wide hierarchal organization that believes it is the authentic version of what Jesus wanted (I assume).

Anyway, the solution is as simple as the nearest Protestant church.

I can only believe that the great allegiance to the Catholic Church, regardless of the degree of disagreement, reflects the power of brain washing. I mean brain washing that good works is the way to practice Christianity, rather than feeling the Spirit.

By the way, "the mission of Christ on Earth is or ever was" was to the Jews. Jesus never left Jerusalem for his preaching. He did not preach to the Gentiles. That became Saul's/Paul's agenda. One should thank Paul for the "Church," not Jesus.
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 11:10 am
@Foofie,
Quote:
One should thank Paul for the "Church," not Jesus.


And he screwed the pooch on that.

Joe(why don't they call themselves Paulines. oh. nevermind)Nation
0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 11:23 am
@Miller,
If nuns are married to God/Jesus, you think the Vatican would know better than to try to piss off a nun's husband.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 02:11 pm
@Foofie,
quote="Foofie"
Quote:
I mean brain washing that good works is the way to practice Christianity, rather than feeling the Spirit.


Strange thing for you say. I think you're confusing Judaism ( mitzvah= practice of good works towards others) and Christianity, which does not involve brain washing and does not place strick emphasis on the performance of "good works".

As far as "feeling the Spirit", Chrisitans feel that Spirit in the Holy Ghost ( Holy Spirit). As far as I can recall, only Hasidic Jews ( not Reform or Orthodox) feel the "Spirit" as do the Islamic Mystics. However, Hasidim is very different from Islamic mysticism.
Miller
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 03:01 pm
@Miller,
As you've probaly noted, Sister Farley is an Irish-American women who's a member of the Mercy Order of nuns. In the Chicago area, the Mercy nuns have a long and exciting history in both medicine and education.

For your information I've printed the following from the Mercy website:

STILL SERVING CHICAGO - STILL LIVING THE MISSION

Mercy’s history of caring reaches back more than two centuries to the commitment of one person, Catherine McAuley, who was born in Dublin in 1778. It was a time of strife and widespread poverty in Ireland. British law excluded Catholics from educational opportunities, equal civil rights, and the open practice of their faith. Catherine was born the daughter of a successful Catholic businessman, James McAuley. In this time of despair, Catherine's father was very concerned about the plight of the poor and oppressed. He died when Catherine was only five years old.

The death of Catherine’s father and then her mother left the McAuley children orphans. Catherine was taken in by the Callaghans, close family friends and strict Quakers. While she was able to follow in her father’s footsteps by working with the poor of Dublin, this strict household did not allow for the open practice of Catholicism. Twenty years later, however, Catherine inherited the Callaghan family estate and was able to practice her religion and pursue her calling to help those in need.


House of Mercy Established
Catherine commissioned a building for the needy on Dublin’s fashionable Baggot Street. It was called the House of Mercy and opened September 24, 1827. The social elite of Dublin began volunteering to teach and care for the children of the poor. Staff members tended to the sick in their homes and in public hospitals. Young women were trained in needlework, etiquette and domestic services so that they might find paying work in the nearby homes of the wealthy.

The spirit of selflessness and giving at the House of Mercy so moved the Archbishop of Dublin that he asked Catherine to establish a religious order that her work might endure. In 1831, after training and preparation for a life of religious service, Catherine McAuley and two colleagues founded the Sisters of Mercy upon a commitment to help the poor, sick and uneducated and all of those wounded by contemporary society. This commitment remains central to the Mercy Mission.

Catherine McAuley died of tuberculosis just ten years after founding her community, but by then there were 100 Sisters to carry on her work. Today there are more than 4,500 Sisters of Mercy.

In 1843, only two years after Catherine’s death, her closest friend and assistant Mother Mary Frances Xavier Warde brought a group of Sisters to America. They would establish Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh – the oldest Catholic hospital in the United States.

Sisters of Mercy Land on Chicago Shores
Three years later, at the request of Bishop Quarter from the new frontier diocese of Chicago, Mother Mary Frances Xavier Warde chose five Sisters from the growing community in Pittsburgh and set out for Chicago. This muddy village on the shores of Lake Michigan was ravaged by recurrent outbreaks of typhoid, smallpox, and cholera.

In 1846, Sister Agatha O’Brien, who at age 24 was the oldest of the five Sisters, began establishing area schools. One of the schools offered high school classes, 10 years before the opening of Chicago’s first public high school. The Sisters created a boarding school for working girls; treated the sick in their homes, in the alms house and in the local jail. Within a decade, four of the five Sisters had died of disease or exhaustion.

Mercy Becomes Chicago's First Chartered Hospital
In 1852, at a site that today would be near Rush Street and the Chicago River, the Sisters of Mercy converted an old rooming house into Mercy Hospital, the first chartered hospital in Chicago.

By 1859, Mercy Hospital was the first Catholic hospital to affiliate with a medical school – Lind Medical School – and the first to require a graded curriculum. The hospital moved to a brand new building at Wabash and Van Buren and was renamed Mercy Hospital and Orphan Asylum. It was here that Mercy’s goals became clearly defined – to provide both high quality medical care and excellence in medical education.

In the 1860s, when the country was ripped apart by the Civil War, the Sisters of Mercy treated the Union wounded and gave care to the Confederate prisoners of war.

In 1863, with the war not yet ended, the Sisters moved their hospital once again. This time, they moved to the site of a former academy at 26th Street and Calumet Avenue, in what seemed like the far distant countryside of Chicago. Many city residents shook their heads over a hospital so far out in the country. There was also criticism when they broke ground in 1869 for extensive additions to the hospital.

Mercy is the Savior of the Chicago Fires
But two years later every bit of that space would be needed. In October of 1871 Chicago burned. Mercy Hospital, which had seemed so ridiculously large and foolish placed on the fringe of the city, became a haven beyond the fire’s reach and provided for as many as six times the number of fire victims any other hospital could handle. The history of Mercy and the history of Chicago had become inseparable. Mercy’s importance to this remarkable new city rising on the prairie was rooted.

In a commitment to both high medical and teaching standards, facilities were expanded, upgraded, and remodeled. By the turn of the century, Mercy Hospital had evolved from a makeshift outpost of assistance to one of the nation’s great medical institutions.

In the decades that followed, Mercy remained in the vanguard of medical treatment. Thousands of medical doctors were trained there. Despite the fame and glory that came to Mercy, the Sisters did not neglect Catherine McAuley’s commitment to those wounded by contemporary society. In 1921, the Sisters of Mercy took over a World War I Veterans’ Dispensary to offer medical and surgical services to the poor. During the depression, the Mercy Free Dispensary served the jobless until the national economic tragedy forced it to close down. Yet in 1938, the dispensary opened again, providing needed health care services to tens of thousands.

In the early 50s, plans for building a new Mercy were being made. The original plan had called for Mercy and the Stritch School of Medicine to locate on the same campus in the suburbs. But Mercy would not abandon their commitment to provide medical care for patients most in need.

The Mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley, also understood the importance of Mercy to Chicago. Through the Department of Urban Renewal, Daley helped Mercy acquire the land between 25th and 26th Street, from Michigan Avenue to King Drive. Mercy would remain a part of Chicago. And in January of 1968, Chicago’s oldest hospital became its newest with the opening of a 517-bed facility.

Today, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center is part of a nation wide network of Mercy Healthcare facilities within reach of 75% of the American population. Since that September day in 1846, when the first Sisters of Mercy dared to venture west to the brawling frontier town of Chicago, the commitment of Catherine McAuley has been tested by fire, disease, and financial hardship – that commitment has thrived bringing hope, comfort and caring to a growing metropolis. The history of Mercy is a rich strong history and it is growing even stronger
Joe Nation
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 03:28 pm
@Miller,
They taught me.

Joe(boy, did they teach me)Nation
Miller
 
  3  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 03:30 pm
@Joe Nation,
They did a good job.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 07:17 pm
@Miller,
Miller wrote:

quote="Foofie"
Quote:
I mean brain washing that good works is the way to practice Christianity, rather than feeling the Spirit.


Strange thing for you say. I think you're confusing Judaism ( mitzvah= practice of good works towards others) and Christianity, which does not involve brain washing and does not place strick emphasis on the performance of "good works".

As far as "feeling the Spirit", Chrisitans feel that Spirit in the Holy Ghost ( Holy Spirit). As far as I can recall, only Hasidic Jews ( not Reform or Orthodox) feel the "Spirit" as do the Islamic Mystics. However, Hasidim is very different from Islamic mysticism.


Not that I am completely correct, but I thought the Catholic church put great emphasis on good works as the path to Salvation, while Evangelical Protestantism emphasizes one's personal relationship with Jesus.

Jews don't have a monopoly on good deeds/works; otherwise there wouldn't be all the Catholic, or other hospitals of other versions of Christianity.

If you are a believer, enjoy. I am a non-believer. Or rather, I believe in science. I also believe in American Exceptionalism.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 07:23 pm
@Joe Nation,
They remind me of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart in Los Angeles (check them out). Those women were big in nun history.
Though others were too - at the place I went for a year, a friend's older sister, then a beginning nun, moved to work with Caesar Chavez and also knew Harold Pintner.

I almost went there to Immaculate Heart to college and was in line behind a woman with my first name that is very unusual for some kind of admissions day. Anyway, I went to the closer place for a year before my big escape to the communist university.

What can I say but Brava to Sister Margaret.

Oh, and why are you still there?
George
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 07:59 pm
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:
. . . Oh, and why are you still there?
I would dearly love to hear her answer.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 08:21 pm
@George,
George, I think you understand me, though I talk on the other side. Anyway, I listen.
Joe Nation
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 08:42 pm
@George,
I think she would say that what they have is not a difference of faith but a difference of politics.

There was a time when I was proud of Catholic political stances: foursquare against racial discrimination, adamant in it's opposition to the Viet Nam War and The Draft, in the trenches in the War on Poverty, opposed to repressive regimes throughout South America ~all these, sometimes supported by the Vatican, sometimes not.

Catholicism lost it's way in it's demented opposition to the legalization of abortion (so many other ways of opening choices for women to make, which they ignored. )

Joe(I didn't leave the Church, it left me)Nation
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2012 09:33 pm
@Joe Nation,
I left during the contretemps of Kung and Ratzinger. Never looked back.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Jun, 2012 08:57 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:
George, I think you understand me, though I talk on the other side.
Anyway, I listen.
Yep
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 10:58 am
@Joe Nation,
Joe Nation wrote:

Joe(I didn't leave the Church, it left me)Nation


Is it good for ecumenism to refer to the Roman Catholic Church as "the Church." It can be misconstrued for hubris, in that the Roman Catholic Church supposedly has a monopoly on Christianity, or at least the one true way to live a Christian life. Or, maybe by referring to the Roman Catholic Church, as "the Church," it gives the illusion of "closure" on the Schism (between Eastern and Western Churches) and/or the Reformation?

Foofie (who values intellectual honesty, over pandering)

P.S. Would one use the reference of "the Church" to designate the Roman Catholic Church if one was living in the Deep South? I think not. Ah, another reason to be more specific in one's references to religious affiliations - it might lessen national divisiveness?
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2012 02:17 pm
Of all the many outstanding hositals we have in the USA, as far as nursing care for the human being, few can really compare to those operated by and staffed by Catholic nuns. They are without a doubt,very ethical.
0 Replies
 
 

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