Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
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Theological society supports Sister Farley following CDF notification

June 08, 2012

The board of directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America has come to the defense of Sister Margaret Farley, a former president of the society, following the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s notification on her 2006 book Just Love.

The Congregation stated that the 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.”

“Her work has prompted a generation of theologians to think more deeply about the Christian meaning of personal relationships and the divine life of love that truly animates them,” the CTSA board said in its statement. “The judgment of the ‘Notification’ that a number of Professor Farley’s stated positions are contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium is simply factual.”

The board members continued:

The Board is especially concerned with the understanding of the task of Catholic theology presented in the “Notification.” The “Notification” risks giving the impression that there can be no constructive role in the life of the Church for works of theology that 1) give voice to the experience and concerns of ordinary believers, 2) raise questions about the persuasiveness of certain official Catholic positions, and 3) offer alternative theological frameworks as potentially helpful contributions to the authentic development of doctrine. Such an understanding of the nature of theology inappropriately conflates the distinctive tasks of catechesis and theology.

With regard to the subject matter of Professor Farley’s book, it is simply a matter of fact that faithful Catholics in every corner of the Church are raising ethical questions like those Professor Farley has addressed. In raising and exploring such questions with her customary sensitivity and judiciousness, Professor Farley has invited us to engage the Catholic tradition seriously and thoughtfully.


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 09, 2012 4:19 PM ET USA

    A quote from Cardinal Ratzinger in CDF's 1990 Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, n. 34: "As to the 'parallel magisterium' [of theologians], it can cause great spiritual harm by opposing itself to the Magisterium of the Pastors. Indeed, when dissent succeeds in extending its influence to the point of shaping a common opinion, it tends to become the rule of conduct. This cannot but seriously trouble the People of God and lead to contempt for true authority."

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Jun. 09, 2012 1:18 PM ET USA

    Catechesis vs theology -- ???????? Wow. That must be really deep. Seems to me St. Paul has a lot to say about such persons. According to the CTSA, the CDF and ordinary people must be uniformed idiots. Why do we even listen to these people? Doesn't Faith rule anyone's heart anymore? As far as I am concerned, let them ship out to another "Multivers" with all the atheist physicists who are too proud to posit a Creator, a Lawmaker, or a Judge.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Jun. 08, 2012 10:26 PM ET USA

    It is hard to understand why, in matters of Faith, Catholics don't rely on the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It seems that what we need are always found there. Writing about the dilemmas with which ordinary Catholics struggle can be very useful, but to me, the solutions to those dilemmas are found within the existing teachings of our Lord and Church - not by trying to re-write our Faith.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 08, 2012 10:16 PM ET USA

    Hasn't this organization been dubious for a long time ?

  • Posted by: unum - Jun. 08, 2012 8:12 PM ET USA

    So another group thinks the Church has suddenly become a democracy and that our theology is intended to give voice to the experience and concerns of ordinary believers. How sad! How modern! How progressive!

  • Posted by: - Jun. 08, 2012 5:47 PM ET USA

    A "Notification" to the Catholic Theological Society of America is long overdue.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 08, 2012 10:21 AM ET USA

    "Simply factual" means correct, right, not in error, etc - right? I don't get it...the Vatican is right but what? If this is the degree of "logic" applied by theologians, it's no wonder that lunacy reigns!