June 6th, 2012 | University

Vatican denounces Divinity School prof’s book

Divinity School professor Margaret Farley's GRD '73 book on the ethics of sex drew the ire of the Vatican this week.
Divinity School professor Margaret Farley's GRD '73 book on the ethics of sex drew the ire of the Vatican this week. Photo by Daniel Sisgoreo.

The Vatican denounced Divinity School professor Margaret Farley’s GRD ’73 book “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics” on Monday for its inconsistencies with traditional Catholic doctrine.

In a statement published by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican deemed Farley’s work “a cause of confusion among the faithful” for its theological rationalizations of remarriage, divorce, masturbation and same-sex relationships. Farley, a scholar of Christian ethics and member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas congregation, wrote in a statement Tuesday that her work was “not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against the teaching.”

“[The book] 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,” Farley wrote. “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.”

In response to the Farley’s call for the acceptance and respect of homosexual acts, one of five “specific problems” the Vatican identified in “Just Love,” the Vatican wrote that such acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.”

Farley said the Vatican’s statement fails to acknowledge her work’s theoretical argumentation and underpinnings, focusing its criticism on the work’s conclusions.

“I fear the [statement] — while clear in its conclusions — misrepresents (perhaps unwittingly) the aims of my work and the nature of it as a proposal that might be in service of, not against, the church and its faithful people,” Farley said.