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Sisters of Mercy president defends Farley, criticizes CDF

June 05, 2012

The president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas has issued a statement defending Sister Margaret Farley and her book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.

In a notification published June 4, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that the 2006 book is “in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality … 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.”

“Sister Margaret Farley, RSM, is a highly respected and valued member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas,” said Sister Patricia McDermott, the order’s president. “I know that I speak for our membership in expressing our profound regret that a Notification has been issued.”

“Sister Margaret has given witness to the highest quality of academic work and compassionate presence,” Sister McDermott continued. “She assiduously attempts to present the Catholic tradition as formative of her own rich experience while recognizing the ecumenical audience she often engages. While being faithful to her own faith tradition and commitments, her sensitivity to the varied circumstances, realities and needs of her students is the context she consistently honors.”

“The process initiated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been lengthy, arduous and extremely difficult,” she added. “I am deeply saddened that Sister Margaret has had to engage in this process for more than three years and that the Congregation has rendered this Notification concerning the significant pastoral and ethical thinking that are represented in her book, Just Love.

Two theologians at Jesuit colleges, David Hollenbach of Boston College and Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University, also issued statements in defense of Farley, as did Harold Attridge, a lay Catholic who serves as dean of Yale Divinity School, where Farley is professor emerita.


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Show 10 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: demark8616 - Jun. 16, 2012 12:17 PM ET USA

    Sister Farley is rampantly disobedient and is following not only her own will, but a religion of her own making. It's not difficult to see what she 'honors' & who her 'devotees' are! "While being faithful to her own faith tradition and commitments, her sensitivity to the varied circumstances, realities and needs of her students is the context she consistently honors." "Do you know that in you a wrinkle is a greater deformity than the greatest wounds are in seculars?" St Gregory Nazianzen

  • Posted by: unum - Jun. 06, 2012 9:00 AM ET USA

    It sounds like Sister Margaret Farley is being defended the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas by for playing to a non-Catholic, perhaps non-Christian, audience with her writing. It sounds like an identity crisis. Either they are Catholic religious or they are not. If they want their members to "recognize their ecumenical audience" and be sensitive to the "varied circumstances, realities and needs" of students, that is the job description of a secular philosophy professor.

  • Posted by: bruno - Jun. 06, 2012 2:16 AM ET USA

    Like other examples of hyper-attenuated texts tuned the cultural trends of the day, this book will become another dusty footnote to our troubled times. It will be mostly forgotten, like Fr. Kung's 'How the Pope Became Infallible' that caused scandal in its day. Holy Mother Church gradually shakes such naughty children from her garments and continues on.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jun. 05, 2012 7:55 PM ET USA

    The fact that the leader of this congregation is called "president" rather than "superior general" or "provincial superior" speaks volumes to the intellectual and organizational deterioration of what used to be a fine religious order.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 05, 2012 6:04 PM ET USA

    “She [Sr. Farley] assiduously attempts to present the Catholic tradition..." wrote Sr. McDermott in her statement. If Sr. Farley had done exactly that, she wouldn't have had to endure three long years of self-inflicted pain and anguish. Actions have consequences and perhaps she thought her actions would not suffer their due consequences. Shame on, and woe to, those who are supporting her in her errors and rebellion against Holy Mother Church. I pray for them.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 05, 2012 5:39 PM ET USA

    My goodness. Since when does student sensitivities trump the truth. Is Catholic dogma supposed to be modified because it might offend a student or a non Catholic? Can a Catholic leader or teacher believe this and still be considered a Catholic? It would seem that the Vatican has good reason to want to rein in these wayward beliefs and activities. Certainly no Catholic leader or teacher should be allowed to remain in their positions of responsibilities if they are seriously out of synch with the Church and Church teachings/dogma.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 05, 2012 10:52 AM ET USA

    When did the nihil obstat and imprimatur (and the mandatum for that matter) stop being used by Catholic "theologians"(et al)? Seems like most of this nonsense could have been avoided if this procedure had been used, but no; causing scandal, selling books and promoting one's self is much more important than the Truth. (I also didn't know Yale was a Catholic school!)

  • Posted by: sparch - Jun. 05, 2012 10:17 AM ET USA

    Sisters of Mercy defend Sister Farley? Now there's a shocker! It is hardly worth the time to post on the web site.

  • Posted by: veniteadoremus1822 - Jun. 05, 2012 8:28 AM ET USA

    The lissom body of the most expert Cirque du Soleil contortionist is but a footnote to the highly intricate types of vapid theological knots that have been perilously twisted and tied here.

  • Posted by: veniteadoremus1822 - Jun. 05, 2012 8:17 AM ET USA

    Was it not St. Paul who said, "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ"