June 18, 2012

The Vatican criticism of Mercy Sister Margaret Farley's 2006 book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, reflects a misunderstanding of what a Catholic theologian should do and is both ill-timed and unfair, say some theologians at a variety of U.S. Catholic universities.

"All persons who care about the Catholic intellectual tradition and the vocation of the theologian should be saddened by this notification," said Jesuit Father Brian Linnane, president and theology professor at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.

But William May, professor emeritus of moral theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, said the Vatican was "100 per cent correct" in its assessment of what he called an "atrocious" work.

Linnane and May were referring to the June 4 notice from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that Farley's book contains "erroneous propositions" on homosexual acts, same-sex marriage, masturbation and remarriage after divorce that could cause confusion and "grave harm to the faithful."

The notification seemed to boost sales of Just Love, which had been listed at no. 142,982 among all titles sold by amazon.com. By 3 p.m. EDT June 6, it had reached no. 15 on Amazon's bestsellers list.