The Thinking 

A Welcome Denunciation of a Feminist Nun

June 5, 2012


SISTER Margaret A. Farley, of the Sisters of Mercy of America, has been officially denounced by the Vatican for her 2006 book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which argues in favor of same-sex marriage, divorce and masturbation, reports The New York Times. The Congregation for the Doctrine of its Faith took two years to review the book. The wheels of Vatican censure grind exceedingly slow. Sister Farley said in response:

I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.


— Comments —

Hurricane Betsy writes:

I read expressions (on, say, Lifesite News) of the constant disappointment by mainstream Catholics of the depredations visited upon the church and common sense by bishops, nuns and other Catholics gone liberal, and of the weak and useless response from the Vatican. So I am wondering why any thinking Catholic would remain in the mainstream church. It is time to join one of those alternative, nonapproved, old-fashioned Catholic churches. Surely all the antiliberals aren’t waiting for some kind of magical change, are they? Ain’t gonna happen. Time to divest yourselves of your emotional attachments.

Laura writes:

There is no “alternative” Church. There is only one Church. It’s the duty of every Catholic – thinking and non-thinking – to resist the Revolution institutionalized by Vatican II. As has been pointed out by others, including Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, that Revolution has three primary characteristics: desacralization, ecumenism, and collegiality (or democratization). It includes everything from liturgical reform, the despoiling of church architecture and sacred music, and the transformation of the Papacy into a vehicle for pop celebrity.

Daniel S. writes:

The only thing I thought when reading this was: this woman is a nun?! I wasn’t raised a Catholic (rather a Protestant), but converted later in my mid-20’s, so the image I always had of nuns was formed from watching The Sound of Music or the images of St. Teresa of Avila from my art history class in college. These modern nuns look more like those 50ish women who work as receptionists in hospital waiting rooms, not women who have made themselves the brides of Christ.

Laura writes:

Her picture speaks volumes, with the manly hair cut, slovenly top and dangling earrings. It’s not that the nuns of the past were beautiful. But their long robe-like habits represented spiritual detachment and a distinct role. Robes historically were reserved for important personages in Western society, including scholars, judges and nuns. Farley looks like an anybody.

Mary writes:

Yes, it occurred to me upon seeing this picture that virtually all non-habit wearing nuns I see pictures of look manly (they are also all of a certain age). Many wear a button-down shirt open at the collar, with a blazer of some kind over it, and have short can-do, no-fuss hairdos. To be fair, this all could indicate a detachment from modern fashion and vanity; but somehow it winds up having a creepy androgenous affect. The nuns of my childhood, in full habits, could never be construed as anything but women; the habit, in it’s own way, reinforced the, if not femininity, at least the womanliness of the nun, which is surprising because of the generalizing affect the habit has on the body in contrast to the waist accentuating clothes commonly found on women through the ages. Maybe the headcovering of the traditional habit hints at flowing hair but in a universal way, stamping out individuality, as it should, and reinforcing the female but not the variation among nuns.

In the same way, the traditional priest’s cassock has a generalizing affect on the form of a priest, whether stout or slim, tall or short. The cassock, along with a short, masculine haircut, removes the individuality among priests so they can truly act in persona Christi. It’s really quite beautiful when you think about it – how traditional garb truly enhances the vocations of our religious. Conversely, the wearing of street clothes by religious cannot help but lower the dignity of the wearer. In a way, it’s a form of denial.

 Laura writes:

Good points.

I especially agree about the masculine look of today’s nuns and the femininity of traditional habits.

The everyday clothes of nuns say, “We are fully part of the world.” If they live in the world like anyone else, why join the convent? One might as well be a social worker or a professor or a psychologist.

Ken C. writes:

All I can think as I learn about the denunciation of this book and the investigation into some orders of nuns is, “What went wrong here?” Aren’t these women brides of Christ? Didn’t they forsake worldly possessions and wedded happiness to serve Him and His Church? To see His face as they served the poor/sick/despised? Now their mission seems to be to encourage as many people as possible to reject the constant and in my opinion unerring teachings of the Church; particularly in their drive to promote every form of sexual gratification conceivable. Perhaps these women should return to serving the marginalized of society with a zeal which should hopefully aid in reducing their need to entertain impure thoughts.

Laura writes:

Liberal nuns believe they are doing the right thing, and that belief tends to be sincere. They have not received adequate guidance.

Mary writes:

Laura wrote: “If they live in the world like anyone else, why join the convent? One might as well be a social worker or a professor or a psychologist”.

There is no birth date on Wikipedia for the nun we’re discussing, but apparently she entered Yale in 1967 as a graduate student (according to a blog discussion on Commonweal). So we can assume she was very young when she joined the convent, in full innocence and with a pure heart, but that, like countless other Catholic religious in the mid-sixties (as has been discussed recently on this site), she was corrupted. If she was an innocent girl exposed to the psychological mischief that was allowed into convents and seminaries at that time by the Church, which I believe to be diabolical in nature, then she was totally malformed.

She is now a woman acting from that malformation, so leaving the convent is out of the question: on the contrary, her goal is to save the Church and she has done several decades of damage. Her brilliance gained her Yale creds and allowed her to contribute to the malformation and corruption of others as a teacher, making her a grave danger to the faith she ostensibly loves. Why it has taken the Church 3 decades to catch up with this woman and muzzle her, and others like her, is the real question. That there is corruption in very high places is probably most of the answer. But something that can’t be denied is that the Church has become so dazzled by things like Yale creds that they are blinded and they have compromised their own institution of higher learning, including Georgetown and Notre Dame, to be able to sit in the shadow of the Ivy league.

Laura writes:

Farley’s book was published six years ago. The Vatican’s response is too little, too late.

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