…as part of a broader agenda to systematically oppress and silence women. That, at least, is the position of some unnamed “critics” in a USA Today article. The story is a response to a recent Vatican censure of a book on sexual ethics by nun and Yale professor Margaret A. Farley.
After two years of study, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a “notification” on Farley’s Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, saying it contradicts Catholic doctrine on key issues such as gay marriage, homosexuality and divorce.
Coming just days after U.S. nuns rejected the Vatican’s reasoning for a wholesale makeover, and a year after U.S. bishops sanctioned another nun theologian, the condemnation of Farley is the latest example of what critics see as a top-down attempt to muzzle women’s voices and an obsession on sexual ethics.
Curiously, there is no report of critics taking aim at Farley for her obsession with sexual ethics–after all, she is the one who published a book on sexual ethics–but the Vatican, in evaluating and responding to the work, reveals its deep and abiding obsession. More importantly, this notification is clearly an attempt to silence women and has nothing to do with the long-standing and well known opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to homosexuality. I mean, who could have expected that the Vatican would react negatively to the argument “that ‘masturbation … usually does not raise any moral questions at all,’ and that homosexual acts ‘can be justified’ following the same ethics as heterosexual ones.” Apparently Farley could, as she admits that some of her views are “not in accord with current official Catholic teaching.”
Nevertheless, there is clearly a vast, institutionalized misogynistic mechanism at work here. Luckily we have feminism to protect women from facing the same standards of ethical orthodoxy as men.