Fishwrap missed the memo about Sr. Margaret

It seems that the staff of the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) didn’t get the memo.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in March 2012, issued a “Notification” (i.e., a really serious warning, an authoritative and official judgment from the Church) about the bad theology of Sr. Margaret Farley, RSM, in her spectacularly bad book Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.  HERE

You will remember Sr. Margaret from the now infamous post NUNS GONE WILD (If you are a relatively new reader here, go read that post!)   A reminder:

Margaret Farley: over the years, she has taken positions favorable to abortion, same-sex “marriage,” sterilization of women, divorce and the “ordination” of women to the priesthood. Farley, who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, is well known for her radical feminist ideas and open dissent from Church teaching. In 1982, when the Sisters of Mercy sent a letter to all their hospitals recommending that tubal ligations be performed in violation of Church teaching against sterilization, Pope John Paul II gave the Sisters an ultimatum, causing them to withdraw their letter. Farley justified their “capitulation” on the ground that “material cooperation in evil for the sake of a ‘proportionate good’” was morally permissible. In other words, she declared that obedience to the Pope was tantamount to cooperation in evil, and that the Sisters were justified in doing it only because their obedience prevented “greater harm, namely the loss of the institutions that expressed the Mercy ministry.” In her presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America in 2000 she attacked the Vatican for its “overwhelming preoccupation” with abortion, calling its defense of babies “scandalous” and asking for an end to its “opposition to abortion” until the “credibility gap regarding women and the church” has been closed. In her book Just Love she offers a full-throated defense of homosexual relationships, including a defense of their right to marry. She admits that the Church “officially” endorses the morality of “the past,” but rejoices that moral theologians like Charles Curran and Richard McCormick embrace “pluralism” on the issues of premarital sex and homosexual acts. She says that sex and gender are “unstable, debatable categories,” which feminists like her see as “socially constructed.” She has nothing but disdain for traditional morality, as when she remarks that we already know the “dangers” and “ineffectiveness of moralism” and of “narrowly construed moral systems.”

Fishwrap has a post about Women resistant to Pope Francis’ call for new theology.

At the end, they present a bunch of books which the Fishwrappers think should be starting points for a theology of women (whatever that is).  The list concludes:

A book that isn’t explicitly about women, but offers a corrective to some of the church’s outdated teaching on sexuality, which Francis will certainly have to reexamine if the Christian community is to move forward with a transformed understanding of women, is Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics by Margaret A. Farley (Continuum, 2006).

— Dennis Coday

A “corrective”! ROFL!

Head on over to the CDF and read what Sr. Margaret thinks about a range of issues such as masturbation and same-sex stuff.  HERE


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  1. adeacon says:

    Sr. Margaret Farley should be excommunicated (probably has done this to herself). When a Catholic nun (?) writes a book that clearly denies Church teaching, most especially in the areas of abortion (murder) and gay marriage (which does not exist), she is causing “scandal.”

  2. Traductora says:

    There’s a high “yuck” factor to all this. Maybe I’d really rather not know what she thinks on…well, a host of subjects.

  3. Gail F says:

    I’m not familiar with all the women mentioned in the article, but I can’t imagine Helen Alvare or Vickie Thorn being remotely interested in those books!

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    Haven’t you heard that traditional ethics needs to be corrected by “liberal, socialist, Marxist, radical” ethics? I read that in the book “The Feminization of the Church?” by Sister Kaye Ashe, past prioress of the Sinsinawa Dominicans. It’s published by National Catholic Reporter and has a foreword by Sr Joan Chittister approvingly telling how parents who reject Catholic teaching “edit” their children’s catechesis, and about building a new church in the shell of the old one, “It is a new church, whether anyone wants it to be new or not.”

    Don’t you know we have to follow our conscience? …wait, Vatican II said we are supposed to form our Catholic conscience in keeping with Catholic teaching?!

  5. pmullane says:

    “offers a corrective to some of the church’s outdated teaching on sexuality”

    There perpertual revolutionaries are tiresome, if you dont like the teachings of the Church there is no obligation to stay, feel free to sod off to your local enlightened episcopal lady vicar, her shaven headed lady wife, and their hippy dippy childless congregation.

    Of course there is less coin in being just another piskie that being a self regarding ‘dissident’ progressive (c)atholic.

  6. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    It sounds like Sr. Margaret should be on the dream list of women theologians that Fr. James Keenan at Boston College is promoting for nomination as a cardinal…

  7. rkingall says:


  8. A.D. says:

    Who the heck is deciding for me that I need any transformed understanding? I’m not a blade of grass, or a fish, or a horse. I am a woman! And God knew what he was doing when he made me and all other women.

    Please Sister Margaret, and all others of like thinking, go back to The Birds and The Bees 101, throw in some social history and anthropology, and cover it all with the teachings of the Church and a little humility; mix all these together; warm them the fire of God’s love for us; and discover again your loving woman’s heart and God’s place for you in His great plans. Taste and see! It is good!

  9. Clinton says:

    I suspect that the Fishwrap and Sr. Margaret both feel the CDF and its Notification
    can be safely ignored. In a sense, they’re right. What’s another piece of paper from the CDF
    to these people?

    The Fishwrap will continue to peddle its mendacious codswallop, selling it as though it
    were legitimate Catholic journalism, no matter what their Ordinary or the CDF have to say.
    Under both Canon and US civil law, there truly is nothing the Church can do to make them

    And Sr. Margaret? Even if it were possible to have her expelled from her congregation, or
    if she were excommunicated, it would not make a whit of difference in her worldly career.
    She might even enjoy an enhanced reputation in those circles in which she moves. Certainly
    she would continue to publish, to lecture, to teach (even at a ‘Catholic’ university), and to
    address organizations like the CTSA.

    Our bishops long ago abdicated any meaningful oversight over how one may claim to be a
    ‘Catholic’ theologian. These days, it’s the gatekeepers at grad schools, the hiring and tenure
    committees at our vestigially Catholic universities, and the editors of theology journals who
    decide who is and is not a Catholic theologian. Bishops are not part of the equation
    in any meaningful sense. For those gatekeepers and academics and editors — many of whom
    are not even Catholic, mind you– Sr. Margaret is everything they want in a theologian.
    Those are the people she is beholden to this side of Judgement Day. For Sr. Margaret — and
    for all our theologians, unfortunately– one’s Ordinary and the CDF are only as relevant as one
    wants them to be.

  10. AvantiBev says:

    A corrective to the Church’s “outdated” sexual ethics????? This from the people who care soooooo much for “the poor” (which Dr. Thomas Sowell and others have pointed out were not, for the most part, – at least until Obama — a STATIC group). But I digress. There is NOTHING within this country that has created more impoverishment of finances and of soul than the NEW sexual non-ethical behavior of the past 45+ years.
    If anything, I am critical of the clergy & laity in the USA so seldom making counter-attacks to the Sexual Revolution. We didn’t have enough push back so now we wage battle against the symptoms (abortion, same sex marriage, serial shack-ups, etc) rather than the underlying disease.

  11. Marc M says:

    Maybe there’s an obvious answer to this, but can anyone help me understand why someone like Sr. Margaret remains a Catholic nun? For decades? Do those in such a mold believe in Church authority at the time of their vows, then change their minds, but simple inertia keeps them from leaving? Or does someone like this enter consecrated life with a full knowledge of the fact that they reject *fundamental* teachings of the Church to which they profess to give their lives?

    I understand being poorly catechized, receiving Confirmation at, say, 13, and so unwittingly professing acceptance of things that one wasn’t ever actually taught, etc. But to enter religious life and take lifelong vows as an adult while consciously rejecting the magisterium seems quite a different matter. And if, afterwards, one decides that everything the Church teaches is wrong, my question remains… why stay??

  12. JesusFreak84 says:

    They know full well that most Catholics, current or former, have some residual trust of nuns, methinks, so the very fact of extra letters after their names “adds” to their credibility. In the cases of some of the nuns at my “catholic” college, I have zero doubt that at least one of the theology professors became a nun thinking she was preparing for the priesthood. Figured the convent would substitute for the seminary until Holy Mother Church “got its act together and caught up with the rest of the world” or whatever nonsense drivel.

  13. Marc M,

    I don’t know Sr. Margaret, nor her community nor anything about her daily routine, and I don’t wish to be uncharitable to her, but your question might have a very simple answer. Sr. Margaret obviously enjoys (for some definitions of enjoy) the academic life of the mind, and probably of teaching. She probably enjoys being in her community, writing for publication, and likely other similar intellectual pursuits. Perhaps she enjoys some of those things to excess, but that would only be speculation on my part.

    As a member of an order, she need not concern herself with at least some of the mundane cares which occupy those of us whose vocation is to live and work in the secular world. Whether living in community or outside of it, her material needs are supplied without significant concern or worry. If her order is financially stable, she need have no worry about her physical needs in the latter stages of life, which she must be approaching. She must enjoy much of the routine of her life or she would have left religious life long hence. It appears from her Wikipedia biography that she is retired, which would mean that any external demands on her time, if there are any, would come from her order. Finally, what other life has she known, beyond teaching and writing about ethics? As to the final parts of the question in your first paragraph, only she knows whether it is inertia, rebellion or something else that keeps her where she is. Nevertheless, the question does remain: were someone like her to leave her order, what would she do to support herself? For that I have no answer (and perhaps neither does she). I can’t imagine that there are a wealth of jobs open for heretical retired Catholic professors of ethics, and nothing in her Yale bio suggests any other skill sets beyond teaching and writing about ethics.

    Perhaps a more interesting question might be what was she imagining when she came to the end of her novitiate?

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  14. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Why do they stay? I know a woman who works at a parish who sees herself as an undercover agent of sorts. She is a self-described “defector-in-place.” She brags to her friends that she takes people aside and assure them they don’t have to believe “everything that the hierarchy” teaches (this while teaching RICA classes). She and her friends describe each other as “prophetic” voices. I don’t know whether she completely believes the things she proclaims, or whether, in her 60s, its a way to make what must be a dreary life more exciting.

  15. Elizabeth D says:

    Marc M, many of the older Sisters were orthodox enough when they entered religious life and made their vows. They fell into marxist-liberationist-feminist ideology subsequently and their belief system changed a lot WHILE they were in religious life. Since that happened in the 60s and 70s, there have been very few vocations entering those congregations that have been able to persevere.

    For an extreme example of one particular woman who entered religious life devout and orthodox, fell into marxist-feminism and apparently is not a believing or practicing Catholic anymore even though she stays in religious life, see the story of Sister Donna Quinn:

  16. BLB Oregon says:

    There is a truly corrosive element in the Church right now. Its constant suggestion that Church teachings “evolve” (read: change to suit contemporary views) gives the faithful the impression that truth and morals are relative to one’s times. Their leaders seek to rot the Church from the inside out, because they want the status of the Church from which to spread their errors. This is straight from the evil one, a volley of heresies as serious as the early Church faced.

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