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SOM YDS Response to Vatican Re Just Love 06 01 2012

SOM YDS Response to Vatican Re Just Love 06 01 2012

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Published by Helen Bennett
“Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.” by Margaret Farley
“Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.” by Margaret Farley

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Published by: Helen Bennett on Jun 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Yale Divinity School and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Yale Divinity School: Gus Spohn, gus.spohn@yale.edu,203-432-3466 (office), 203-464-8335 (mobile)Sisters of Mercy of the Americas: Sue Carroll,scarroll@sistersofmercy.org,202-486-4014 (mobile)
Response to Vatican’s notification regarding
 Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics
Yale Divinity School Professor Emerita Margaret Farley says her book 
 Just Love
was not
intended to express “current official Catholic teaching” but rather to help people “think throughtheir questions about human sexuality,” in response to a Vatican charge that her book “affirms
positions that are in direct contradiction
with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality.”
 The Vatican, through its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (CDF) sent an official
“Notification” released in Rome on June 4 following a lengthy investigation of the book. Farley
is a prominent Catholic theologian and member of the Sisters of Mercy, a congregation of women religious, who served for almost 40 years on the YDS faculty before retiring in 2007 asthe Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics. She is a past president of both the Society of Christian Ethics and the Catholic Theological Society of America and is a recipient of the JohnCourtney Murray Award for Excellence in Theology.In a statement released on June 4, concurrently with the Vatican announcement of theNotification, Farley observed that the Notification fails to specifically address her positions on
issues such as homosexuality, divorce, marriage, and masturbation and “misrepresents (perhaps
unwittingly) the aims of my work and the nature of it as a proposal that might be in service of,
not against, the church and its faithful people.”
Read Farley’s
“Notification” is a term commonly used for the official communication by which the CDF make
spublic its judgment in particular matters related to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.
 Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics
(Continuum, 2006) poses the decisive
question, “With what kinds of motives, under what sorts of circumstances, in what forms of 
relationships, do we render our sexual selves to one another in ways that are good, true, right,
and just?” Farley’s answer rest
s on the fundamental notion that morally appropriate sexualrelationships, heterosexual as well as same-sex, must be characterized by justice. In thatframework,
 Just Love
challenges traditional
and frequently negative
views of homosexuality,masturbation, divorce, and remarriage after divorce.
In her statement, Farley noted, “
This book was designed to help people, especially Christians butalso others, to think through their questions about human sexuality. It suggests the importance of moving from what frequently functions as a taboo morality to a morality and sexual ethics basedon the discernment of what counts as wise, truthful, and recognizably just loves. Although myresponses to some particular sexual ethical questions do depart from some traditional Christianresponses, I have tried to show that they nonetheless reflect a deep coherence with the central
aims and insights of these theological and moral traditions.”
 In recognition of 
 Just Love
, Farley was awarded the 2008 Louisville Grawemeyer Award inReligion
, given “to honor and publicize annually creative and constructive insights into the
relationship between human beings and the divine, and ways in which this relationship mayinspire or empower human beings to attain wholeness, integrity or meaning, either individually
or in community.”
Read about the 2008 Grawemeyer Award athttp://www.yale.edu/divinity/news/071207_news_grawemeyer.shtml News of the impending Vatican announcement prompted a flurry of reaction in the days leading
up to the announcement amongst Farley’s colleagues and fellow theologians in both secular and
Catholic institutions.Harold Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School and a Catholic layperson,
said, “
Honestand creative theologians have often met a critical response to serious theological
reflection, and it is not a surprise that Professor Farley’s work has done so as well. In
time, I suspect, those who react negatively to it now will come to appreciate theimportant contribution it makes to what must be our constant effort to examine thefoundations of our moral life.
“The YDS community continues to appreciate the unique insights Professor Farley brings
to the theological enterprise, and we lo
ok forward to her future contributions in the field.”
Read Attridge’
s full statement at http://notesfromthequad.yale.edu/statement-harold-attridge Sister Patricia McDermott, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, said
Margaret Farley is “a highly respected and valued member of the Sisters of Mercy” who“assiduously attempts to present the Catholic tradition as formative of her own rich
experience while recognizing
the ecumenical audience she often engages.”
McDermott concluded, “I speak for members of our religious community when I express
our profound regret that this Notification was issued. While the
process initiated by CDFhas been lengthy, arduous and extremely difficult, Sister Margaret and the Sisters of 
Mercy have responded thoughtfully each step of the way.” Read McDermott’s full

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