The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) has issued a notification on the book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics by Sr. Margaret Farley, professor emeritus of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School. The CDF claims that her position with regards to masturbation, same sex love and divorce are not consistent with the official Catholic teaching.
Statement of the European Forum: Justice and Love CENSORED
Sr. Margaret Farley’s book Just Love - recently censored by The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) - gave immense joy to many faithful and people of no faith. Sr. Farley’s book offers fresh perspectives and practical tools to navigate amidst the various moral dilemmas that millions of faithful may encounter, in their daily, real, day-to-day lives. It also enhances ecumenical dialogue.
Whilst Sr. Farley retains a solid Christian framework she opens up immense possibilities for those who are honest about their lives and sexualities and want to retain their Christian faith. It is sad to note that the CDF systematically refutes dialogue about matters pertaining to human sexuality, denies decades of scientific data and moves stubbornly ahead unreasonably, using force against those who are trying to espouse faith and reason with regards to matters pertaining to human sexuality. It is also sad to note that the CDF dismisses the faith experience of thousands of LGBT Christians, our families and friends. It is interesting to note that in a time of regular scandals by the hierarchy and those at the Vatican - also about sexual matters, it is an ethicist that is being punished!
What the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church denies is the reality that its own documents about homosexuality have created confusion and conflict amongst the faithful, often leading families into the depths of despair, separation and at times even violence. Words such as ‘intrinsically disordered’ and ‘intrinsically evil’ have led baptized and non-baptized alike on the brinks of despair sometimes even to suicide.
On the other hand the fruits of Sr. Farley’s book are other. They appeal to reason. The method that the CDF keeps adopting fails over and over again. Many people who have been censored in the past received apologies later – usually after their death, some have also been canonized. We believe that history repeats itself. Unfortunately it seems that the hierarchy does not want to learn from its past mistakes. We do acknowledge that issues of sexuality and morality may pose deep difficulties amongst those who uphold the law and who happen to be celibate men, but it is through contact, relationships and dialogue that resolution can be found. Such condemnations will only alienate more people from the Catholic Church. On the other hand, people were clearly encouraged when they read Sr. Farley’s book because dialogue is key to any growth process.
The European Forum of Lesbian and Gay Christian Groups believes that Sr. Farley’s thoughts and proposals are a great contribution to the Universal Church and we believe that dialogue not censorship is the way forward. It is evident that the reality of millions of faithful and the insulated world that the administration of the Roman Catholic Church choose to live in, are miles apart. We believe we are at cross roads, either we are going to choose to build bridges or we are going to choose to move further apart. Our hope is in communion and in building bridges but efforts have to be made from all parties including those from the side of the administration of the Roman Catholic Church.
We believe that Sr. Farley’s proposals can help us conceptualize a truly Universal Church that embraces, rather than excludes. We fear that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church may be showing its preference to limit the good news of Jesus Christ merely to a select, elite group of people within society. We believe that the good news is Universal and is to be shared with ALL People of good will. Sr. Farley’s book Just Love succeeded to reach out to such people who would otherwise think they have no place in the Church and it offered hope.