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Is Pleasure a Sin?


It’s hard to say what is weirder:

A Sister of Mercy writing about the Kama Sutra, sexual desire and “our yearnings for pleasure.”

Or the Vatican getting so hot and bothered about the academic treatise on sexuality that the pope censures it, causing it to shoot from obscurity to the top tier of Amazon.com’s best-seller list six years after it was published.

Just the latest chapter in the Vatican’s thuggish crusade to push American nuns — and all Catholic women — back into moldy subservience.

Even for a church that moves glacially, this was classic. “Just Love: a Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” by Sister Margaret Farley — a 77-year-old professor emeritus at Yale’s Divinity School, a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and an award-winning scholar — came out in 2006.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which seems as hostile to women as the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, spent years pondering it, then censured it on March 30 but didn’t publicly release the statement until Monday.

The denunciation of Sister Farley’s book is based on the fact that she deals with the modern world as it is. She refuses to fall in line with a Vatican rigidly clinging to an inbred, illusory world where men rule with no backtalk from women, gays are deviants, the divorced can’t remarry, men and women can’t use contraception, masturbation is a grave disorder and celibacy is enshrined, even as a global pedophilia scandal rages. [more]


NY Times



  1. Mack says:

    It puzzles me why people get so upset when the Vatican states the obvious. I mean that Farley herself doesn’t dispute that the book is not according to Catholic teaching. The Vatican is simply pointing that out, and informing people not to be misled into thinking that Farley is teaching what the Catholic Church does. why would anybody expect the Vatican to say that is OK?
    Farley is just another voice saying it’s OK to lower standards of sexual morality. She’s going with the crowd, following the wide way, the easy road that leads to hell, as Jesus pointed out in the Gospel. But how narrow the road, how rough the way, that leads to life. that way doesn’t include sexual indulgence. it includes asceticism and going against our selfish and sensual desires.

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    • Jim says:

      Thanks for that lucid comment, Tolinasde — I’ve never read something so illuminating in my life. Thank you again.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Officials of OUR church seem the last people on earth that should be pronouncing about sex or honesty! Their lack of transparency and their protection of “their own” (not women) disqualifies them from having a say. Get out of the dresses, gentlemen. Join the real world!

  4. Thomas Merton says:

    I guess if your the Vatican, the acts of child sexual abuse are OK but playing with YOURSELF is not. How hypocritical is that?? Especially when it’s the Vatican that has made a career of hiding and keeping these priests from prosecution.

  5. Tony says:

    We have learned a great deal from psychology and sociological development and have to look at sexuality through the lenses of what we have learned. Perhaps not every act of masturbation or homosexuality or heterosexuality is morally offensive. Masturbation is a normal part of human development.

    • Marty says:

      You think. It’s a misuse and abuse of one’s sexual faculties. Check out the Catechism. Just look what happened to Onan.

      • Tony says:

        Even the Catechism acknowledges that not every act of mastubatin is subjectively a sin. Even a well instructed child in moral theology know that to commit a moral sin there has to be serious matter, sufficient reflection and full consent of the will. Very often in the course of human development one of these is missing and therefore no sin is committed.

        • Jim says:

          Not true, Tony — although the Catechism concedes that not every act of masturbation is a MORTAL sin for the performer (even though it always, without exception, is a grave matter, and it is always sinful).


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