June 6th, 2012
11:26 AM ET

Vatican reprimand sends American nun's book up bestseller lists

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.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Sexuality • Vatican

soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. TamarS

    good for Sister Margaret A. Fraley! I said exactly that the other day in a comment when the story posted. I see the Pope slapping his forehead saying "Oy – so much cash and we won't get any of it".

    June 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Nilkinggary

      She's already won a $200K award for the book. That was four years ago.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  2. Kindness

    Something For you.
    A thought to consider without a typical ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Let go and let god".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome

    June 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      Smart people don't believe in imaginary beings, much less "pray" to them.

      You are clearly so far gone within this christian cult, you'll likely never get out.
      It's like still believing in Santa Claus when you're an adult.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Nilkinggary

      If you want to preach, please go find a church rather than wasting our bandwidth.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Think for yourself

      I prefer to think for myself. Thanks anyway...

      June 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Debbie

      Kindness, your posts reek of ego which makes you a hypocrite.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Bud in NC

      Huh? "Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence." Let's see if I understand this. If you believe something, anything, and the evidence contradicts what you believe, then the evidence (facts) are wrong. That is delusional.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  3. PrimeNumber

    I'll have to read this. I doubt it will contain anything new.
    I can imagine what went on in CNN's board rooms. "Get a publisher. Let's turn this nun thing into something big. Get the book on the best seller list. Then we can split the take."
    Actually, the Catholic church doesn't censor anything until you try to pass it off as official Church thinking.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Nilkinggary

      It looks like an extremely thoughtful book. But it IS an academic work on ethics. Most people here won't go near it. Since it's not available as a Kndle edition, I have to wait myself.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      she specifically said it was NOT "church teaching"..

      June 6, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • rftallent

      Sr. Farley never said that her writings were Catholic doctrine. These are her thoughts, alone, and I must say that she is more realistic than the occupants of the Vatican.

      June 7, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  4. Devin

    The Vatican are the last people to be speaking about morals

    June 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  5. gfak

    The Vatican hasn't heard of the Streisand Effect I take it...

    June 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  6. arosebyanyother

    So could someone at the Vatican please define for me what "radical feminism" is, and why they are such an authority on feminism?

    June 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Drew

      For the same reason that tea-tards are such an authority on "socialism"

      June 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      That would be anyone who doesn't follow 1 Timothy 2:12

      "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

      June 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • sjenner

      Radical feminism is whatever good old Benny XVI says undermines the supreme authority of men over women.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  7. MI Poo

    Nuns do good deeds and help those in need. Priests molest little boys. Who has more value in this world?

    June 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • augustghost

      AMEN.....no pun intended

      June 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  8. N.Shapiro

    Anyone remember "Banned in Boston"?

    June 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  9. Drinky Crow

    Seems like every time the Vatican condemns something, it becomes a blockbuster. Remember when they condemned "The Da Vinci Code"? How about "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"?

    June 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Calvin2k

      It was actually Monty Python's Life of Brian, but that's OK, your comment was in the right "spirit.'

      June 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Drinky Crow

      Doh! You are correct. And I always considered myself such a MP fan, which makes it all the more embarrassing.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  10. Ol' Lefty

    Haven't read the book, and probably won't. But that's some good publicity, better than money can buy.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  11. justwrong1

    He Without Sin Cast The First Stone! Shame On The Vatican & Pope, Lest We Forget Your Petophile Ways!

    June 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Sandra

      They never seem to remember these things while they're condemning everyone else. Couldn't agree more with you.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  12. cyn507

    hahaahahahahahahaahaha! ahh, that's priceless. thanks ancient old men for making a harmless book a new best seller despite your best intentions to get people to not read it. way to go catholic church. as usual, you say something and everyone does the exact opposite. one has to wonder if the church leaders ever tire of having their collective feet in their mouths.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • !=Sheep

      The profits will ultimately belong the RCC.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Roscoe Chait

      Don't ya just love America? Get some big shot to condemn your book and make a pile of money. In this case, the Pope is next in line to God, so that's going pretty high up the food chain.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • rftallent

      Especially considering the subject matter. I hope that the proceeds go to Sr. Farley's convent and the Vatican never sees a dime of it. I'd like to see the nuns separate from the Vatican altogether. I believe that they would get a lot more good works done without the legion of child molestors holding them back.

      June 7, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  13. Ace

    "Vatican reprimand sends American nun's book up bestseller lists"
    Gotta love the Streisand effect.....

    June 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  14. stateschool

    Is there someone at the Vatican I have to grease in order to get them to condemn my book?

    June 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • reddragon

      I was thinking the same thing. hahaha

      June 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  15. 123elle

    First of all, the author says, "Taken together, the Vatican critiques signal an attempt to *reign* in America’s nuns...

    The proper word is rein as in reining in a horse. Not reign as in rule. Where is the copy editor?

    Secondly, is this not the same pope who admitted to being a Hitler Youth? Has he not learned any humility about judging other people after his narrrow escape from being found a war criminal?

    June 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Drew

      That's not really fair, membership was mandatory. I have no great love for the pope, but there is no need for illogical smears

      June 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • sjenner

      Drew's right. Participation in the Hitler Youth was mandatory for all boys between the ages of 14-18, beginning in 1936. By all accounts, Ratzinger's parents were anti-Nazi, although quietly so. Otherwise, not much to presently commend Ratzinger's term as Pope.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Just like participation in Obama's healthcare will be mandatory. Will we judge you in 60 years over your reaction to this coercion?

      June 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The Pontifical Commission set up by Paul VI, recommended the approval of birth control, Billy Boy. YOUR theologians, and experts...72 of them. The ONLY reason it was not promulgated by JP I, was because Villot and gang murdered him. Nice Mafia-church ya got there.

      June 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  16. DJR

    It's a view point of difference from living and working in the USA and being stationed in other countries. The US church is drifting, including nuns.So is the Episcopalian, Lutheren and many others. The vatican does not stand alone. The church is under attack, Stand fast.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • sir_ken_g

      The church is plain dead elsewhere.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      Under attack?????? Your Church of Child R a p e is killing itself. It is outdated and the Vatican is turning into a side joke in conversations. The Pope is about as relevant as the guy who plays Santa at the mall. Only to the world of small little minds the Pope is relevant. We are witnessing the slow death of what used to be the center of a religion. The religion will fracture more and evolve away from the Vatican. The only authority and relevance the Pope has will stop at the boundry of the Vatican property. Perhaps in another 100 years the Catholic Church will no longer be the Catholic Church. Just fractured organizations. Perhaps The Hard Rock will buy the Pope's garbs and display them in Vegas?

      June 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • sjenner

      Actually, it's the Church that has done the drifting, since the issuance of Humana Vitae. Before then, the Church had the good sense to stay out of people's bedrooms. Now, apparently, a thin film of latex or a hormone pill has salvational value. Further, women who have abortions are subject to automatic excommunication while murders and child rapists are not. And that includes abortions associated with ectopic pregnancies, where the fetus will likely kill the mother if not removed. Instead, the hierarchy would require the women to have the entire Fallopian tube and ovary removed. Either that or die. This wasn't the case 50 years ago. The hierarchy isn't standing firm against anything. They've drifted so far to the right over the last 20 years I don't think most Catholics even relate to them anymore.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Catholics are not true Christians

      June 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  17. independentlyowned

    Approving of masturbation suddenly makes one a radical feminist. The Catholic Church just gets more and more backwards every day.....

    June 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  18. higgs boson

    difficult to know whose the worst...catholics or muslims

    June 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • ScottEriugena

      Don't you get tired of making things matter?

      June 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • higgs boson

      some things do matter...if your house is on fire while you're in it, for example

      June 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • ScottEriugena

      Guess particle physics isn't your string point.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Drinky Crow

      So, am I to assume that you are on the Catholic story because without you they can't have mass?

      June 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • ScottEriugena

      @drinky crow I like your sense of humor! That was pretty good! Keep it coming. Finally, there's signs of ntelligent life on this forum.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Lattice Pray

      Scott & Drinky,


      I don't know much about particle physics, so about all I can do is wave appreciatively at you.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • derp

      "Guess particle physics isn't your string point"

      I guess spelling isn't yours.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Lattice Pray

      It's wordplay here, derp... and kind of fun if you get into it.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      my kitty cat is named Schroedinger ... he sleeps in a box ... I don't know if he's dead or alive.

      June 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      don't collapse my wave, dude.

      June 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  19. GenXcynic

    What they meant to say was "CATHOLICISM, like any religion, is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action..." but the editor was busy in the locker room.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  20. Mrs. Jones

    Maybe if some the of the priests would get more into masturbation, they'd quit molesting young boys.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • rftallent


      June 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Salacious and ignorant. There is no connection between mastur bation and pedophilia. None. But don't let that stop a good diatribe.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • derp

      "There is no connection between mastur bation and pedophilia"

      What if a priest jerks off a little boy?

      June 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.