VATICAN CITY (Zenit) — The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has published a notification about a book, Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics by Sister of Mercy Margaret A. Farley.
The American sister’s book “is not in conformity with the teaching of the Church. Consequently it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counselling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue,” the notification warned.
The note was signed by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and has been approved by the Holy Father.
According to the note, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to Sr Farley on March 29, 2010, enclosing a preliminary evaluation of the book and indicating the doctrinal problems it saw in the text.
“The response of Sr Farley, dated October 28, 2010, did not clarify these problems in a satisfactory manner,” the Congregation note stated.
A further evaluation of the book was made by a commission of experts and on June 8, 2011, the Ordinary Session of the Congregation confirmed that the book contained errors.
A letter was then 0sent to the president of Sr Farley’s congregation with a list of the book’s errors, asking her to invite Sr Farley to correct them.
On October 3, 2011, Sr Patricia McDermott, who in the meantime had succeeded Sr Mary Waskowiak as president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, forwarded to the Congregation the response of Sr Farley, together with her own opinion and that of Sr Waskowiak.
This response was examined by experts and submitted to the CDF Ordinary Session for judgment on December 14, 2011. “On this occasion, the members of the Congregation, considering that Sr Farley’s response did not adequately clarify the grave problems contained in her book, decided to proceed with the publication of this notification,” the note stated.
The Congregation explained that among the many errors and ambiguities of the book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage.
Regarding homosexual acts the books states: “My own view . . . is that same-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities. Therefore, same-sex oriented persons as well as their activities can and should be respected whether or not they have a choice to be otherwise.”
“This opinion is not acceptable,” the Congregation’s note explained. It quoted the Catechism, which asks for respect for persons with homosexual tendencies, but “the Catechism also points out that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”
The notification also addressed Sister Farley’s opinion that divorced people may remarry, saying: “This view contradicts Catholic teaching that excludes the possibility of remarriage after divorce. . . . In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ, . . . the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognised as valid, if the first marriage was.