Vatican denounces nun who wrote prize-winning book advocating masturbation and not damning gay sex

June 5, 2012 • 7:48 am

I keep wondering whether the Catholic Church is on the Red Ball Express toward self-destruction, or whether, by holding the hard line on things like masturbation and homosexuality, it can still maintain adherents.  I think that, unless they reform radically, they’ll ultimately become insignificant, but that will take a long time, and what do I know?

The growing breach between the Vatican and even its own official minions is clear in a new piece in the Guardian, “Vatican denounces nun’s book on sexual ethics.”  The details (I’ve added a link to the book):

The Vatican has condemned a leading American nun for writing a book in which she praises female masturbation and approves divorce and gay sex and marriage, warning that the book must not be used by catholic educators.

The Vatican’s criticism of Sister Margaret Farley, a professor emeritus of Christian ethics at Yale University, comes amid escalating tension with America’s nuns, after the Holy See accused them of preaching “radical feminist” ideas.

In a statement approved by pope Benedict and issued on Monday, the Vatican’s doctrinal office claims Farley’s book, Just Love, a Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, “ignores the constant teaching of the Magisterium or, where it is occasionally mentioned, treats it as one opinion among others”.

The statement singles out Farley’s claim that many women “have found great good in self-pleasuring – perhaps especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure – something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers.”

Masturbation, she concludes, “actually serves relationships rather than hindering them”. That view, the Vatican stated, contradicted the Catholic belief that masturbation is a “gravely disordered action”.

Farley’s approval of gay sex ignored “Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity”, while her backing for gay unions was tantamount to “approval of deviant behaviour,” the Vatican said. Her openness to divorce and remarriage was deemed as “contravening God’s law”.

When Just Love was first published in 2006, it was adopted by catholic educators in the US and won a prestigious religious book prize.

This is how the Vatican keeps its hold on people, starting with the young. Show me a teenager who hasn’t masturbated, and therefore isn’t guilty of a “gravely disordered action.”  That of course, could send you to hell unless you go into the booth and say, “Forgive me, Father, for I have touched myself three times this week.”  How the priests must lick their lips at that! Any reader who hasn’t engaged in self-pleasuring, weigh in below—if I don’t hear anything, I’ll assume that everyone has.

And, of course, the Church still views homosexual acts as another possible cause of mortal sin, something that can send one to hell (reconceived, of course, as “separation from God”). I wonder why any gays—people like Andrew Sullivan—can remain members of a church that condemns them so seriously.  The excuse that “I’m changing it from the inside” won’t wash.

Well, the church still holds the hard line. Should this continue, we’ll wind up with a Catholic faith in which virtually every member (including nuns and priests) regularly commits grave or mortal sins.  The Guardian comments further on the Vatican’s report:

That approach runs contrary to pope Benedict’s firm belief that the Catholic church will only survive if it clings to its core beliefs without compromise.

The report warned: “Sister Farley manifests a defective understanding of the objective nature of the natural moral law. This approach is not consistent with authentic Catholic theology.”

Well, if the moral law is objective, it can’t be changed—ever. Unlike other churches, this is the ultimate reason why Catholicism is doomed to irrelevancy. If you want a good laugh, read about “natural law” here.

66 thoughts on “Vatican denounces nun who wrote prize-winning book advocating masturbation and not damning gay sex

  1. From what I can tell, the “separation from god” aspect of hell goes back to the 12th century, which granted is still pretty darn recent. But even then, it was just the chief punishment, not the only thing. I wonder when the idea of hell minus the burning actually first showed up?

  2. Now, what has me curious is that, I can understand the logic of prohibiting male masturbation, on the ‘every sperm is sacred’ principal, but female masturbation? Nothing is really lost in that situation, the woman’s fertility is the same as it always was.

    Unless the real reason is to take normal human sexual behavior, make it a sin, and require confession to have a permanent, intimate wedge to insert priests into the lives of parishioners.

    1. “Unless the real reason is to take normal human sexual behavior, make it a sin, and require confession to have a permanent, intimate wedge to insert priests into the lives of parishioners.”

      Amen.

      Makes me sick.

  3. “Any reader who hasn’t engaged in self-pleasuring, weigh in below—if I don’t hear anything, I’ll assume that everyone has.”

    Isn’t that a fallacy? Along the lines of “When did you stop beating your…” Oh, never mind.

    So, why do all the catlickers hang onto the “one true faith” when none of the ones I know follow any of the rules?

        1. And a pathetic phallusy, at that. Don’t go Onan Onan on, about it. Get thee to a nunnery before it becomes habit-forming and other vaguely-related word associations of that sort.

          What a website! It’s host calls the readership a bunch of w**kers and they respond by slagging of the RCC; best laugh in ages.

          Keep it up, JAC! (the blogging, that is).

  4. I remember a Catholic friend at University telling me how his father had told him not to masturbate (when he was 14)

    He asked me how I’d have felt? I think I’d have told my father to mind his own business. He clearly felt guilty about it but still did it.

    I really, really don’t get why people give up control of their own bodies to some misogynistic idiot wearing a silly hat.

    1. Because they don’t realize that they have a choice; because they think that it’s the right thing to do; because they think they’ll be punished if they don’t; because it’s the only way to remain a part of the community which is a cornerstone of their identity; because they fear the censure of friends and family…

      Those are the ones that come to mind for me. There could be others.

      1. And the biggest reason, because their parents told them to. Catholicism only really works when you have parents teaching their children at a young age… when they don’t, all those prohibitions really start unraveling, because all of them are based on authority, not reason.

      1. I must admit, when see the pope wearing one of his (many) hats, the urge to become a Catholic is nearly overwhelming.

      1. As has been said before “If God had intended for priests to masturbate, he wouldn’t have invented altar boys”

  5. I’m trying to figure out how to insert (get it?) a phallus-cy joke here…..

    At least the church seems to have it’s priorities sorted out. Kiddie fiddling: cover up and pretend it doesn’t happen. Masturbation, gays: Bad!! Evil!! Burn in hell!!

    Clearly defined priorities. Does anyone, even catliks, think they have any moral authority anymore?

  6. I do recall there being a survey conducted among American males once on the subject of masturbation.

    The study showed that 94% of American males admitted to masturbating.

    The authors therefore concluded that 6% of American males will lie about anything.

  7. “Any reader who hasn’t engaged in self-pleasuring, weigh in below—if I don’t hear anything, I’ll assume that everyone has.”

  8. C’mon people, it’s simply a goal we must aspire to.

    It’s a condition of purity we must drive ourselves relentlessly in search of.

    It’s a challenge — a blissful target, and only by depriving ourselves will we penetrate the deeper regions of our souls…

    It’s a human struggle we must endure, so that ultimately we can receive the discharge of heavenly grace…

    You’ll pardon me for a moment…

    Indeed. Yes. It’s simply a goal we must aspire to.

  9. It’s a tangential issue, but…

    While obviously surveys of this sort of thing are problematic, both the data and case study seem to indicate that a very small percentage of males do not ever masturbate, although it appears to be somewhere south of 1%. Just how much south is difficult to measure, but they do exist.

    A non-trivial number of females have not ever masturbated, but because of the difficulties in reporting I am loathe to quote a number. I’ve seen it quoted as high as 15%, but I imagine it’s probably more like a third of that number.

  10. “Any reader who hasn’t engaged in self-pleasuring, weigh in below”

    I haven’t.
    Currently 23 years old, haven’t seen much reason to start, don’t think I will in the future.

      1. I actually don’t consider it “boasting”. It’s certainly something I wouldn’t brag about!

        You never know. These odd birds do exist. But goddamn they are rare… odds are Narvi is lying for some strange reason (for the same reason that any time you get a positive test result for a very rare disease, it’s probably a false positive even if the test is very accurate) but you never know.

  11. The real problem was “Women thinking for them selves” Which must be stopped at all costs[/sark]

  12. The Saturday Night Live character, Father Guido Sarducci, had a hilarious take on this issue.

    1. Unfortunately, the final punch-line (which makes this especially relevant to JC’s post) is missing from this and all other on-line copies. At the conclusion, Fr. GS says he has a dream of dying, getting through the tunnel and finding out he is just 35 cents short.

  13. many women have found great good in self-pleasuring – perhaps especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure

    Put all hope out of your mind… and masturbate as little as possible, it drains the strength.

  14. This is from an AP article on yahoo news about this issue.

    “The Farley critique, signed by the American head of the congregation, Cardinal William Levada, comes amid the Vatican’s recent crackdown on the largest umbrella group of American sisters. The Vatican last month essentially imposed martial law on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, accusing it of undermining church teaching and imposing certain “radical feminist themes” that were incompatible with Catholicism.

    It ordered a full-scale overhaul of the group and appointed three bishops to carry it out.”

    I can only conclude that these high end clergy types know full well that they are reprehensible. I just don’t get why so many believers can look right past this shit and just not get it. In particular I don’t understand how any woman could remain loyal to any degree to the catholic church.

  15. Should this continue, we’ll wind up with a Catholic faith in which virtually every member (including nuns and priests) regularly commits grave or mortal sins.

    That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    The more people regularly commit grave or mortal sins, the more people are vitally dependent on the intercession of the Church.

    1. Exactly. Remember, the RCC has recently started selling indulgences again. Can’t make a very good profit on indulgences for abortion, there aren’t enough of them. To boost profit margins, they’ve gotta be linked to some behavior much more common.

  16. The arrogance of the Catholic Church who sexually repress preachers though remain silent about paedophilia in their midst. What can they offer in terms of credible morality? They must be bribing a hell of a lot of world leaders who seem to ignore the shortfalls of this corrupt sect.

  17. One pope, many cups.

    Ya’ll are gonna need therapy to get that image out of your heads, huh? 🙂

  18. About as “disordered” as getting hungry or sneezing are. No one has described the Catholic hierarchy better than Hitch, related to their condemnation of gays and in particular of his friend, Stephen Fry: “This is disgraceful, it’s inhuman, it’s obscene, and it comes from a clutch of hysterical, sinister virgins who’ve already betrayed their charge in the children of their own church. For shame!”

  19. In other religious news, the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle church in Greensburg Indiana, issued a statement on its website in response to criticism it received regarding the video of the boy singing “ain’t no homo going to make it to heaven”.

    “The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason. We believe and hope that every person can find true Bible salvation and the mercy and grace of God in their lives. We are a strong advocate of the family unit according to the teachings and precepts found in the Holy Bible. We believe the Holy Bible is the Divinely-inspired Word of God and we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture.”

    Exhibit A: “The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason.”

    Exhibit B: “We are a strong advocate of the family unit according to the teachings and precepts found in the Holy Bible.”

    Exhibit C: “. . . and we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture.”

    Major conflict between exhibit A and exhibits B and C. The only reasonable conclusion is that whoever wrote that is lying. They know they teach people to hate. Are they lying in an attempt to salve their own conscience, or in an attempt to reassure their flock that they are righteous?

  20. “Any reader who hasn’t engaged in self-pleasuring, weigh in below—if I don’t hear anything, I’ll assume that everyone has.”

    I believe it was Dennis Miller who once said, “Let him among us who has a free hand cast the first stone.”

    1. Celibates?

      BTW a great book, now unavailable in English translation, but I picked it up at my sister’s (she isn’t getting it back) is Sainte Colline by Gabriel Chevalier.

      It is pretty much the equivalent of Stalky and Co, being set in a Catholic School in France pre WW1, but less prissy about sex.

      The priests sharing out the porn confiscated from the pupils, the priest advised to conduct affairs, but keeping it quiet, stuff like that.

      David B

  21. Their not changing their stance on the issue probably has a lot to do with the idea of papal authority. The idea that if they change their minds they will destroy their credibility for having a direct phone line to god.

  22. it’s not just masturbation that is disordered, you know. I’ve read the literature on this from horses mouth, but can’t search for a link right now as next poker tourney starts soon.

    Foreplay in marriage is also disordered, according to catholic doctrine.

    David B

  23. ‘read about “natural law” here’

    Oh, I did, Jerry—and how could you be right and him wrong, when your post has not been dedicated to the “immaculate heart of Mary”, like that treatise on natural law was!!

    Surely she would have guided him to the eternal truths, especially those about women ‘whacking off’. (OMG, I haven’t used that phrase since being a mildly-sexually-frustrated, too-much-beer-drinking undergrad, I think.) But she was some kind of woman, endowed with the ability to give birth despite no ‘penistration’ (unless maybe the holy ghost had one), so surely she would know all about vaginal self-stimulation, what her son or his father thought about that, and be able to communicate it to web sites dedicated to her lily-white heart.

    Seriously though, don’t you think the responses here have a bit too much ‘attack the priests on the grounds of being two-faced’ (which they certainly are), whenever some catholic nonsense comes up? The question is whether or not it is correct or true, and in science one does not decide that on the basis of the previous actions of the person(s) advocating it as the truth. The point is the harm done by, and feeble basis of, much of Catholic moral teaching, not the fact that many of the priests don’t follow it, and are seriously immoral in other ways as well.

  24. I recall a TV show about vibrators. I think the history was that there was some sort of female condition (female hysteria?) which was treated by the physician manually stimulating the patent’s clitoris. This got really tiresome for the physician, who might see several patients a day, so the vibrator was invented to make the physicians job easier. It became very popular as a medical treatment device, and developed into wider medical applications as we see today. Never any connection made with sex, at least not in the advertising or discussion of how it was viewed at the time.

  25. The Vatican’s condemnation of divorce is beautifully deconstructed in Gene Lyons’s devastating critique of the Catholic bishops posturing on Obamacare’s contraception coverage:

    So you’d think they’d be a bit more modest in their rhetoric, the bishops. Particularly in anything touching upon human sexuality. This may be the place to say that I speak for nobody but myself. Not for Irish Catholics, Catholics in the South, Catholics Who Raise Fleckvieh Simmental Cows, nor even for my wife.

    Her issue is how easily rich people are granted marriage annulments. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s marriage was declared null and void after 24 years and three children because — get this — he’d entered it with reservations. Specifically, he never intended to quit “dating.” (Evidently a family tradition.) Never mind that Kennedy’s ex-wife Joan agreed. Mine found it sickening, a patent end-run around the church’s unwillingness to countenance divorce.

    For that matter, a couple of bishops attended Newt Gingrich’s third wedding. So don’t tell me they couldn’t find a way to accommodate President Obama’s downright Jesuitical compromise to the effect that Catholic hospitals don’t have to offer employees contraceptive care, but their insurance companies do. Canon lawyers make distinctions like that one every day.

    My mother had more than one friend who had to go through the Catholic annulment farce. The Catholic church is a thoroughly corrupt and outrageous institution.

  26. I remember all too well when my mother caught me “touching myself” and reported it to my Dad. He was brought in strict Victorian sexual mores and so I was told that to continue in this fashion would result in blindness…..so, I stopped and guess what; I had what one would usually expect, considering it’s a normal biological function – “wet dreams”! A messy business, so I reverted back to “touching myself” but made sure that I wasn’t caught at it.
    These deluded pricks in the Vatican some how believe that we humans are not members of the mammalian world, so listen to the “word of god” and DENY your evolutionary history!

    1. Well, I thought I’d got away with it for about 20 years, but I now need glasses for reading – so I guess that proves it. It will catch up with you, eventually. My palms aren’t hairy yet but I’m expecting that any day…

      1. Ha! ha! Ha! I am approaching 70 – my significant partner (wife) obliges, and that is SO much more satisfying.

  27. ” . . . the Holy See accused them of preaching ‘radical feminist’ ideas.”

    Does the Holy See condemn “radical masculinist” ideas?

  28. I was riding on a Greyhound bus once and had the pleasure of sitting next to an ex-Nun for several hundred miles. She told me that when sausages or weiners were served at a meal in the convent all of the dangerous sausages or weiners were cut into small slices so none of the lusting novitiates would be tempted to pocket one for some “self-pleasuring” later.

      1. Candles, I can believe.

        Sausages, though, I would have though were far too soft and squishy to be any use.

        Certain vegetables, now, could be far more useful (is a cucumber a vegetable?). And every time I see Ray Comfort talking about the convenient design of bananas it cracks me up…

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