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Vatican criticizes US theologian's book on sexual ethics

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The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has sharply criticized Just Love, an award-winning book on sexual ethics by Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, a prominent Catholic theologian at Yale University.

"Among the many errors and ambiguities in this book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage," the congregation's five-page "Notification" said.
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In those areas, it said, the author's position "contradicts" or "is opposed to" or "does not conform to" church teaching.

Made public Monday but dated March 30, the Notification was approved by Pope Benedict XVI and signed by U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation, and Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, its secretary.

Farley said, "Although my responses to some particular sexual ethical questions do depart from some traditional Christian responses, I have tried to show that they nonetheless reflect a deep coherence with the central aims and insights of these theological and moral traditions."

Statement by Mercy Sister Margaret A. Farley

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I have received the official Notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published in Rome, June 4, 2012. By it, I understand that my book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, has been judged to contain positions that are not in conformity with the hierarchical teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

I appreciate the efforts made by the Congregation and its consultants, over several years, to evaluate positions articulated in that book, and I do not dispute the judgment that some of the positions contained within it are not in accord with current official Catholic teaching. In the end, 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.

Academics react to Vatican move against Farley book

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The following reactions by theologians and other academics to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith's “Notification” regarding Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley's Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics were gathered by the Yale Divinity School for distribution to the media:

Harold Attridge, Dean of Yale Divinity School

Professor Emerita Margaret Farley has long been a revered figure at Yale Divinity School. She has inspired generations of students, both men and women, to take seriously the task of theological ethics, by examining the logic of our moral judgments in the light of scripture, tradition, and human experience.

Her work on sexual ethics, Just Love, is an award-winning example of that enterprise, recognized by Christians of many traditions as a thoughtful attempt to wrestle with some of the most divisive social issues of our time.

Vatican courts tackle petty, serious crimes

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ROME -- From picked pockets to a 1998 double murder and suicide, the Vatican legal system has dealt with a vast array of crimes and misdemeanors over the decades.

Now it has begun a formal inquiry into the case of the pope's personal assistant who has been implicated in the media-blitzed "VatiLeaks" scandal. Paolo Gabriele, the pope's valet since 2006, was arrested May 23 by Vatican security for having unauthorized documents in his possession.

As the case unfolds in the coming weeks, many may wonder how the Vatican City State's unique judicial system works.

Its legal foundations are rooted in the Code of Canon Law, papal decrees, the Lateran Pacts, and Italian and Roman municipal laws.

Of the half-dozen different tribunal systems at the Vatican, just one deals specifically with the maintenance of law and order in the 108-acre country. The other systems tackle ecclesial matters.

Vatican academy mulls how pro-life is pro-life enough

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Analysis

In the normally tranquil world of the Vatican, where keeping up at least the appearance of unity is a fine art, the Pontifical Academy for Life has long been something of an outlier. There, internal tensions have a habit of erupting into full public view.

The latest such row, featuring a public call from academy members for its papally appointed leadership to resign, pivots in part on the question of just how “pro-life” is pro-life enough to faithfully represent Catholic teaching.

Also at stake is whether affording a Vatican platform to people who don’t completely share Catholic positions risks blurring the church’s message -- or whether refusal to engage in such dialogue betrays, as one Vatican cardinal has asserted, an insecure, “fundamentalist” position.

Founded by Pope John Paul II in 1994, the Pontifical Academy for Life is essentially a Vatican think tank composed of roughly 70 academics, medical experts and activists. It’s led by a bishop appointed by the pope, along with a small staff of Vatican personnel, and coordinated by a six-member governing council.

Vatican pledges to restore trust, transparency in search for truth

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican said it is committed to restoring a sense of trust and transparency as it seeks the truth behind leaks of letters written by Vatican officials to each other and Pope Benedict XVI.

Paolo Gabriele -- the pope's private assistant accused of having a cache of illicitly obtained Vatican documents -- was still under arrest and would face his first round of formal preliminary questioning by Vatican judges "later this week or early next week," Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said Tuesday.

The spokesman confirmed that an unspecified number of other individuals also had been questioned by Vatican police recently, a process that could be expected to continue, but no one else had been charged or arrested.

Gabriele has been able to meet and speak with his lawyers and his wife regularly, and is "very serene and calm," said his chief counsel, Carlo Fusco, in a written statement released Monday.

Lombardi said Monday the Vatican "is committed to seeking to restore as soon as possible a climate of transparency, truth and trust."

Pope appoints North Dakota bishop to Denver, Maine bishop to Buffalo

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UPDATED 3:20 p.m. CST WASHINGTON -- Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, N.D., as the new archbishop of Denver and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Portland, Maine, to head the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y.

The pope also accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, who is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope.

The latest on Vatican scandals

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To say that the Vatican seems in turmoil would be putting things mildly, with two stunners in the arc of twenty-four hours last week: The announcement that the president of the Vatican Bank has been unceremoniously fired, and the revelation that a longtime personal servant of Benedict XVI has been identified as the alleged "deep throat" behind the torrid Vatican leaks scandal.

Director of Vatican Bank resigns under pressure

VATICAN CITY -- In an unprecedented move, the board of the Vatican Bank on Thursday forced its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, to resign.

According to a Vatican statement, the bank's supervisory council unanimously passed a no-confidence motion in Gotti Tedeschi for his "failure to fulfill various primary functions of his office." Carl A. Anderson, the supreme knight of the U.S.-based Knights of Columbus, is one of the council's four members.

Vatican publishes rules for verifying visions of Mary

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VATICAN CITY -- To help bishops determine the credibility of alleged Marian apparitions, the Vatican has translated and published procedural rules from 1978 that had previously been available only in Latin.

The "Norms regarding the manner of proceedings in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations" were approved by Pope Paul VI in 1978 and distributed to the world's bishops, but never officially published or translated into modern languages.

However, in the last three decades, unauthorized translations have appeared around the world, according to U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The doctrinal office "believes it is now opportune to publish these 'Norms,' providing translations in the principle languages" so as to "aid the pastors of the Catholic Church in their difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or, more generally, extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin," the cardinal wrote in a note dated December 2011.

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