Most of you, by now, will know about the book by Sister Margaret Farley, R.S.M., whose 2006 book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which rocketed from a ranking of 146,982 on Amazon to 16 (number 1 in religious studies) and sold out in three days (according to a Guardian report). Though delivering a stinging rebuke to Farley, now retired from her position as professor of Christian ethics a Yale Divinity School, the Vatican, through the Inquisition (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), issued a condemnation of the book, its many divergences from Catholic teaching and Sister Margaret’s “defective understanding of the objective nature of the objective moral law,” but does not intend any further discipline, since Sister Margaret has now retired from teaching (and, presumably, can do no further damage).
The quotation comes from the official “Notification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics by Sister Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M.,” 04.06.2012. The primary author of the notification is William Cardinal Levada, whose name appears on the Notification, who, before being raised to the cardinalate in 2006 was the Archbishop of Portland (Oregon) (1986-1995) and Archbishop of San Francisco (1995-2005). Now, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (also known in the past as the Holy Office of the Inquisition), the present pope’s former position under Pope Karol Józef Wojtyła, and making pronouncements about Catholic sexual ethics, it is probably appropriate that we recall that, in 1985, Levada was presented a report compiled by a priest, Tom Doyle, head of a three-man panel, dealing with (according to Wikipedia) the “medical, legal, and moral issues posed by abusive clerics.” Doyle asked that the report be presented to a meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was turned down. Levada himself, in an 2008 interview, stated without qualification:
I personally do not accept that there has been a broad base of bishops guilty of aiding and abetting pedophiles… If I thought there were, I would certainly want to talk to them about that.
Father Doyle said, in response:
I vividly recall briefing Levada in May, 1985 when he was an auxiliary bishop, about the sexual abuse crisis. I also have seen volumes of documents and sworn testimony from depositions that clearly shows that most, probably all, bishops clearly knew that priests were raping and otherwise sexually abusing kids as far back as the 40′s….and I limit it to that era because I have not gone beyond that in studying documents. So, Levada’s statement is either an outright lie or evidence of a very narrow understanding and perception of reality.
Yet this is the man who now presumes to condemn Sister Margaret Farley for her stand on various aspects of sexual ethics! It is only fair to remember this, and to recall that, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine the Faith, the man who is now pope joined cause with Levada in covering up the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests and other religious in worldwide Roman Catholic Church. There is scarcely a country in which this abuse did not happen under cover of the pretence of sanctity.