The Vatican has reprimanded the moral theological positions of the US-American nun Margaret Farley in a doctrinal examination procedure. Several statements of the Yale professor of Christian ethics contradict Catholic teaching, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced in a "Notification. The main points of contention are statements on homosexuality, marriage, divorce, remarriage and masturbation.
The subject of the proceedings was Farley's book "Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics". Soon after its publication in 2006, it sparked widespread discussion in the U.S. and brought the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the scene. The Vatican, in accordance with the norms of review in force since 1997, asked the author, through her religious superior of the community "Religious Sisters of Mercy", for a clarification. Since this was not satisfactory from the Vatican's point of view and the book "caused confusion among the faithful," Rome initiated the "Urgent Doctrinal Review Procedure". Since Farley did not correct objectionable statements, notification now followed.
Notification does not imply condemnation of the theologian, who was the first woman appointed to Yale Divinity School and chaired the Catholic Theological Society of America for several years. However, the Vatican states that the book in question "cannot be used as a permissible exposition of Catholic doctrine either in counseling and formation or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue".
The five-page statement lists and evaluates individual statements by Farley. For example, her opinion "that same-sex relationships and acts can be justified on the basis of the same sexual ethics as heterosexual relationships and acts". The theologian concluded, "Therefore, same-sex persons and their actions can and should be respected whether they choose to be different or not." This, the Vatican said, was "unacceptable". Although persons with homosexual tendencies must be treated "with respect, compassion and tact" and not "unfairly set back" in any way, homosexual acts are "not okay in themselves".
"No proper understanding of the role of the Magisterium of the Church"
Farley's statements on social recognition of same-sex marriage, divorce, and remarried divorcees are treated in the same pattern.
Vatican's core criticism: author shows "no proper understanding of the role of the Church's teaching authority". In discussing various moral ies, she ignored the statements of the Magisterium or treated them as one opinion among others. It also professes an inadequate understanding of the "objective character" of the natural moral law.
How the matter continues depends largely on the leadership of Farley's order. If the nun continues to publicly advocate the offending statements in lectures, talks or writings, restrictions on her teaching activities could follow. Some theologians have been given a "sabbatical" or banned from speaking out in such cases, such as the Franciscan and liberation theologian Leonardo Boff. Others lost their teaching credentials.
Usually, however, after such a Vatican assessment, be it in the case of the Salvadoran liberation theologian Jon Sobrino (2006), the Belgian Jesuit Pierre Dupuis (2001), the Indian Anthony de Mello (1998) or the Austrian liturgical scholar Reinhard Mebner (2000), things quieted down afterwards.