A critic of the CDF Note about Sr. Farley’s dreadful book

Several people sent me links to an piece on Religion Dispatches about pro-abortion Mary E. Hunt’s defense of pro-abortion RSM Sr. Margaret Farley’s dreadful book.

My readers wanted me to fisk Hunt’s arguments.

Since I have a little jet lag and a lot to do, I will sum my comments up this way.  You should be able to figure out Hunt’s arguments and motivations from this.

Mary Hunt is a lesbian.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Andrew says:

    I just turned off the morning news on TV because within a few minutes they reported on:

    a famous football coach (married – not celibate) being sued for abuse of young boys;

    a woman from a famous family ran over her family dog, hit her husband with a heavy object, used
    to get intoxicated, and finally hung herself;

    a well known government official involved in a serious hit and run accident;

    other news of cheating, lying, scandals, abuse, lawsuits, jealousy, murder, etc.

    Here is what I don’t fully understand: why is it that “theologians” (who come up with stupid phrases such as “self pleasuring”) fail to see a connection between false liberty of doing whatever pleases us, and damaging consequences that destroy individual happiness? When has anybody lived a happy life by embracing a life of unbridled pleasure and licentiousness? Yet, this is what this Farley woman proposes. Talking about the blind leading the blind.

  2. jules1 says:

    Fr Z – yep, that says it all!
    Andrew- I hear you- I think the world is full of selfishness and the wrong sort of ‘love’.

  3. JARay says:

    I read on another blog that actions like excommunication do no good at all to the Church as a whole. In fact, the argument given is that by drawing attention to the one excommunicated it draws attention and sympathy towards the person concerned.
    There may indeed be some truth in that argument however, the lack of any kind of approbation against these dissenters simply makes the Church look weak.
    Both Sr. Farley and Mary Hunt call themselves Catholics, but clearly, both are apostates. Nevertheless, Hunt has a point when she says that Farley’s book has been available for six years and nothing has been said about it until this point.
    It certainly makes me think that there is a strong case for the re-introduction of The Index. The placing of a book on The Index carries with it a clear warning to the Faithful that a particular book should most strongly be avoided.

  4. John Nolan says:


    Sr Faustina Kowalska’s writings were placed on the Index by Bl. John XXIII, no less. It didn’t stop JPII canonizing her, approving her visions and even hi-jacking the Sunday after Easter to promote them.

  5. LisaP. says:

    I’ve wondered about this with folks I know. I think maybe part of the issue is that if you are entirely immersed in that world, it looks like “normal” to you. I’m very grateful that I’ve been given a chance to break out of it enough to be able to see it occasionally from the outside, and see what a sad and bleak place it is. We all have our good times and our bad times, but I wonder with some of the people I know living (probably without real knowledge of what they are doing) lives that follow these alternative moralities, do they ever have times of actual happiness and joy? Or are those moments of recreational “pleasure” as close as they ever get, like the heroin addict who mistakes a fix for actual happiness and loses all hope for happiness in his pursuit of the next fix? I know people who watch those stories and think, “Yup, that’s life!”. It reminds me of the conversation I had a couple weeks ago where the topic of abortion came up, I was talking with my kids, and we have talked about what abortion is. At some point I mentioned the 50 million abortions, and realized a minute later my kid was crying to herself. She had no idea there had been so many. I had just thrown it out as a statistic, I’m myself so corrupted.

  6. disco says:

    If they can say your opinion is of no consequence because you’re a man then I sat turnabout is fair play

  7. Phil_NL says:

    I must say we have a problem, not just with Farley’s ramblings, but frankly also with the analysis Fr. Z. sums up in one line.

    Yes, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that sexual orientation, political preferences and attitude towards the Church’s teachings are highly correlated; mostly likely one can dig up the numbers of a serious study as well.
    However, we should not yield to the idea that sexual orientation automatically leads to the other aspects. Not only would that be a blow to those homosexuals who are trying to be faithful, it’s also bad tactics, as out of the three factors, sexual orientation is the least likely to change.
    In fact, we’d be playing right into the left’s playbook (read: Alinsky) as it would mean that the left / heretics can fully monopolize all those who fall into any category they claim to represent. If you reinforce that idea, you end up with a situation not unlike the US Democratic party vis-a-vis the colored vote. And loosing elections is already bad enough, loosing souls even worse.

  8. Phil_NL says:

    PS: which doesn’t mean Hunt and Farley wouldn’t deserve a good smacking down from an episcopal staff, of course.

  9. ContraMundum says:


    I think there is a qualitative difference between a woman who struggles against same-sex attraction and an out-and-open Lesbian. The former are sympathetic, but they will almost certainly keep their struggles private.

    Anyone who sins without shame — and in fact, brags about his sins — can be counted on to disagree with Church teachings. It doesn’t much matter what the sin is.

  10. Jamin says:

    I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
    who will judge the living and the dead,
    and by his appearing and his kingly power:
    proclaim the word;
    be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
    convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
    For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine
    but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
    will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
    and will be diverted to myths.
    But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
    put up with hardship;
    perform the work of an evangelist;
    fulfill your ministry.

    For I am already being poured out like a libation,
    and the time of my departure is at hand.
    I have competed well;
    I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.
    From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
    which the Lord, the just judge,
    will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
    but to all who have longed for his appearance.

    From 2 Tim 4:1-8

    I think this sums it up.

  11. ContraMundum: Then this is a clarification which belongs in the post, even if it lengthens Fr. Z’s one-line analysis.

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    Phil NL,
    I was raised along the fringes of the “anything goes” world, since my mom is a professional dancer.
    We were Episcopalian, and the clergy who accepted that world with open arms denied Church teachings right down the line, including the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, the Resurrection, and just about any other Christian doctrine you care to mention. Once you deny that sin is sin, you wind up denying everything that might contradict you. It comes with the territory.
    The problem with the residual sort of “I’m OK – you’re OK” religion that remains after Church teaching is denied is that it leaves the people trapped with absolutely no recourse. One of the most moving testimonies I have ever read about that fate: I was in Hell.
    In an addendum, the writer acknowledges the role of his free will in the choices that he made. But it’s still very sad that a church should be a Near Occasion of Sin.

  13. Phil_NL says:

    @AnAmericanMother: I’m in no way defending or proposing an ‘anything goes’ mentality. I am arguing against fisking heretical opinions by simple reference to the sexual orientation of those who utter them. Even if it paints a picture that’s right in a vast majority of the cases, it doesn’t help with those who don’t fit the description, is poor argumentation, and plays right into the hand of the Alinskytes.

  14. Andrew says:

    Phil NL
    I think it is important to avoid getting drawn into a conversation that revolves around slogans, such as “sexual orientation,” and refocus instead on the fundamentals of our human condition and talk about our wounded nature, prone to sin and error, in need of discipline and grace and redemption. All human beings experience a struggle with sin within themselves. That needs to be understood first before going on to various social issues. These “theologians” are using slogans and labels to avoid the real issue of human sinfulness that cannot be bypassed.

  15. AnAmericanMother says:

    I understand that you’re not.
    I think your misapprehension is with the term “sexual orientation” (which of course has been popularized by the homosexualists to describe their actions, not their tendency or temptation. I think this confusion of terms is quite deliberate.) The issue here is not “orientation” – if that were all it were, how would we know? – but aggressive, highly publicized homosexual actions by individuals who demand not only recognition but approval.
    My point is that if one is an “out” lesbian and continues to call oneself Catholic, one must deny Church teaching. Faced with this enormous contradiction, one says, “I want the Church to change its teaching and declare that my actions are not sinful, so that I can go on calling myself Catholic but feel o.k. about my actions without changing anything in my life.”
    My experience with the Piskies simply demonstrates that.

  16. Phil_NL says:

    @Andrew: couldn’t agree more. That’s why I think identity-politics is particularly harmful, and also why I think we shouldn’t play along in that game.

  17. Phil_NL says:

    @AnAmericanMother : then we should be doubly careful, cause on this side of the Atlantic, “she is a lesbian” would be seen as a referral to the orientation, not to the act. With all due respect to Fr. Z. and then some, I maintain that this one-line frisking was most unfortunate.

  18. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Seemingly small sins can echo through the ages. Were it not for the Marquess of Queensbury’s anger at Oscar Wilde, public discussion of a person’s alleged participation in the unspeakable crime against nature would not take place. Consequently, though, the public discourse has been coarsened and corrupted to what seem irreparable levels of depravity.

  19. marytoo says:

    PhilNL – The problem is not that Father Z is identifying this woman as a lesbian, but that she identifies herself as such. It doesn’t matter whether or not she is celibate (although the one he describes happens to live with a woman and they have adopted a child together). Celibate homosexuals shouldn’t fall into the trap of self-identifying as such, just as any sinner is shouldn’t define themselves solely by their past sins.

    PhilNL wrote: “Not only would that be a blow to those homosexuals who are trying to be faithful…”

    If you apply this to other sins it doesn’t hold up, as in: “Not only would it be a blow to those serial adulterers who are trying to be faithful…”. Let’s give celibate, faithful homosexuals the benefit of the doubt and say they have an even fuller understanding of the sin of homosexuality than non-homosexuals; at any rate the main concern cannot be focused on this group. On the contrary, the multitudes of Catholics who don’t have a full understanding of the Church’s teachings on things like abortion, contraception, and, yes, homosexuality, etc etc. have to be the main concern. Using plain talk to call out homosexuals and their supporters within the Church – or any dissenting group – is effective and practical, because by using the word homosexual in describing themselves they are giving it power, whether they intend to or not.

  20. Phil_NL says:


    No, the problem is one of reasoning. It is assumed that because she is a lesbian, she would be against the church teachings, trying to subvert them, and so on. That causality is a mode of reasoning that is straight from the identity-politics of the left. Whether or not she or anyone else self-identifies in a certain way, revels in it or not, flaunts it or not, is in the end immaterial for this issue; sexual orientation doesn’t by itself affect reasoning skills. Surely, many are blinded by it, but we should not take that for granted.

  21. Supertradmum says:

    From the link, you noted Father Z., this quotation:” A scholar of Margaret Farley’s stature must terrify the staff of the CDF.” Choke, splutter, cough, good grief…….she is a scholar of what, may I ask? Not doctrine, not dogma, not Catholic social teaching, not Catholic ethics, just wondering what….

  22. Johnno says:

    We’re living in an age where articles like this can be written about a very dark reality of the world today:

    So yes, more and more, what you identify yourself as is becoming more and more polarizing on a host of topics. The middle ground is slowly vanishing as ideologies and their logical consequences come more and more into their own. The world is being sorted out on the left and on the right. The sheep and the goats are becoming more distinct. The battle lines at Armageddon are forming.

  23. LisaP. says:

    I was taken aback by the line above, also.

    Then I thought about it a moment.

    There are two ways I thought it could be taken (I might be missing a bunch, of course!).

    1. She is a lesbian, therefore she will encourage sin and heterodoxy, because lesbians encourage sin and heterodoxy.

    2. She supports the heterodoxy and encouragement of sin for no other reason than because she is a lesbian.

    The first is clearly an untruth and not something I’ve seen the like of here.

    The second notes a fascinating modern phenom whereby people define their very being by their sexual identity and make all other decisions in their lives, including their decisions about what they choose to believe, based on that sexual identity. Pointing that out seems consistent with other things I’ve seen written here.

  24. Michelle F says:

    Perhaps Fr. Z should have said “Mary Hunt is an unrepentant lesbian.” I think that would have staved off some unnecessary quibbling, and I’m certain that’s what Fr. Z meant.

  25. Kathleen10 says:

    I know I’m going to be criticized for this, but I really thought for a moment the title of this article was

  26. Kathleen10 says:

    I agree with Marytoo. I think we have seen what happens when the left speaks plainly enough (coursely enough, vulgarly enough) and we, the “opposing voice” do alot of dancing around terms, avoiding defining terms lest we insult somebody. They appear to have the courage of their convictions while we avoid the plainspeak that might appeal to more people if just because it is not words elaborately wound around “points”. People today, the general public, know little about moral or spiritual matters. They are for the most part, unchurched and not instructed, or worse, poorly instructed. It is obvious that at best, a sound-bite will get their attention, for a moment. But those sound-bites can matter, as a counterpoint to the incessant drumbeat of homosexuality today.

    We can’t delude ourselves into thinking that if we have anyone’s attention on spiritual matters, it would be for more than a passing moment. Sad to say, that’s it. The simpler and more clearly something is stated, in the vernacular of the day (with civility but determination) the better. We can always say we have a right to our opinion, even if others think we do not.

    Personally, when discussing these issues, even in print, I find it’s best to be forthright but also sensitive. I speak to the talking points that make sense to me. The fact that marriage has always been one man, one woman. That this is a social experiment that no one has a “civil right” to. That people with homosexual orientation are not denied civil rights, because that would be to say they cannot marry anyone, so their rationale is false. That is affects all of us, and we all have a right to say “no”. That in 32 out of 32 states in the U.S., we have said “no”. That no one group has a right to upturn society, as we really do not know the end result. The fact that children are denied either a mother or a father by definition, in same-sex families. The fact that studies have shown that a child brought into a relationship where he or she is not related by blood to one of the parents is much more likely to result in either abuse or neglect for the child. (something like 8 times more likely) The proven fact that same-sex relationships, no matter male or female, have a MUCH higher rate of domestic abuse, which of course affects any children brought into that situation. I often refer to the website MassResistance for backup, because in Massachusetts they now live the reality of life in a state after the legalization of same-sex marriage.

    We have no idea what impact being raised in a same-sex “family” mean. Who has done the studies? So it is all just a huge social experiment, and we are all vested in the outcome.

    If I get around to a personal discussion on the topic, I will add that in my opinion, the gay lifestyle seems to be a disordered one because it focuses so much on the sexual identity and behavior of any participant or member. While the media likes to identify the “gay couple who are monogamous and been together for 30 years”, they appear to be the minority. There are alot of risky and/or unnatural behaviors associated with the gay lifestyle, and young people are very vulnerable to being “shown the ropes” by an experienced predator of the same sex. This is very disturbing, and I can say as well as anyone why this is a terrible thing, publicly I mean. Just try and say I don’t have a right and an obligation to speak out to protect vulnerable children and young people! We all do. Right now there is a serial predator on trial, and hopefully he will be put away forever. I must say, with all care, I also use the sexual scandals in our beloved Church to point out the troubling behaviors that accompany a same-sex attraction. I give the statistics, all male priests, 81% male victims, most post-adolescent. Connect the dots.

    These are mostly facts, and some extrapolations, but I’m on safe ground with them. I’ll leave it to others to discuss homosexuality as a sin. Homosexuality is a critical issue for all of us right now because the issue has been forced. If we don’t defend traditional marriage, it will cease to exist. It is so easy for the opposition to fall in with same-sex marriage. I know this column was not about same-sex marriage, but this is the main reason we are talking about this at all. This is the “end game” for homosexuals, to overturn traditional marriage and completely change our culture. Much more is on the line than Sr. Farley and her dissident clerical friends and fans, although I’d like to see them “dealt with” by the church. They’ve done enough damage. I cringe at the reality of how many times Sr. Farley’s errors have been taught to college students and others. It is not a small number. Even for one college student to be taught lies and errors, it is too much. That’s one soul in danger, one more dissident in the making, one more hater of the Catholic church, one more supporter of gay rights, one more person angry with the conflict between church doctrine and teaching! This is certainly not a minor point.
    Why has it taken six years to get someone’s attention? Alot of damage has been done in six years, I’m thinking.

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