June 6th, 2012
11:26 AM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com
(CNN) – Authors are known to seek out glowing blurbs to help sell books, but they might consider courting a Vatican reprimand instead.
After the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog condemned an American nun for a book she wrote on human sexuality this week, the book shot up Amazon.com’s bestseller list, becoming the #1 best selling religious studies book by Tuesday.
On Wednesday , Sister Margaret A. Farley's "Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics," was the #16 best-selling book on Amazon overall, just ahead of Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” which has been on Amazon's bestseller list for well over a year.
Farley's book has been on the list for three days. The Washington Post reported that the book was #142,982 on Amazon as recently as Monday.
That was the day the Vatican revealed its censure of Sister Margaret A. Farley, who teaches at Yale Divinity School, over her 2006 book, which the church said is out of step with official church teaching on human sexuality, including masturbation and homosexuality.
“Masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action,” the church said in a statement Monday that went on to characterize “homosexual acts” as “acts of grave depravity.”
The reprimand warned church officials not to use Farley’s book, raising eyebrows in Catholic circles because she is one of the country’s most respected female Catholic theologians.
In a statement, Farley defended her work, saying it was not meant as an official church teaching.
Farley said she feared the Vatican “misrepresents (perhaps unwittingly) the aims of my work and the nature of it as a proposal that might be in service of, not against, the church and its faithful people.”
Her censure came days after the leadership that represents most American nuns concluded a meeting in Washington to devise a response to an April Vatican assessment that accused the nuns of promoting “radical feminism.”
Taken together, the Vatican critiques signal an attempt to reign in America’s nuns, a community that the Holy See believes has drifted away from church teaching.
“The Vatican believes that there is a climate of dissent in some quarters of the women’s religious life in America,” said John Allen, CNN’s Vatican analyst. “They are trying to deal with that, and both these developments speak to that.”
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