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. BRUCE


    June 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      nun of this, and nun of that

      June 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  2. Bootyfunk

    "“Masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action,” the church said in a statement Monday "

    this says it all. touching your own body is evil. what an awful philosophy to teach people, that getting to know your own body is a terrible sin. the church teaches exactly the opposite of a healthy s.ex life.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The reason it is disordered is that se xual relations are designed by the Creator to be communal with a spouse. Auto erotic behavior truncates intimacy and deprives us of the spiritual component of S ex.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      prove it Billy Boy. Show us the study that proves masturbation results in less coupling. You just need more paying fools.

      June 6, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  3. Ron in California

    Masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action,” the church said in a statement Monday. Ok here is a golf joke WHY IS FOUR PUTTING LIKE MASTURBATION? IT'S EMBARRASSING BUT YOU KNOW YOU'LL DO IT AGAIN.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  4. ForGoodOfAll

    Great job, Sister Farley! You go, girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  5. Bootyfunk


    June 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  6. sir_ken_g

    Just leave the church ladies. That would leave them with just group of old pedophiles.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  7. guarina

    reasonable attempt to keep up with the discoveries of natural intelligence is anathemized by medieval papacy

    June 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  8. USA401

    Religion and Freedom are like oil and water. They dont mix and should never mix. These nuns are a product of the good ol' USA and they have a right to speak their minds, worship how they want and belive in god in anyway they choose.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes they do. They just don't have the right to present it as Catholic teaching

      June 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The Church, Billy Boy, is not the hierarcy. Ever hear of the "Mystical Body of Christ" ? I thought not.

      June 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  9. Jackie

    I am Catholic, and I struggle with how I feel about it, but I have many issues when the Vatican starts reprimanding people for depravity. Just take a good, really long look at their history and the truly heinous acts it contains. Given what we all know now I can only imagine the things that are still hidden. I have such respect for nuns, they are the backbone of this religion. And apparently the nuns from the US are the most intelligent.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • LostinSLC

      Well if you ever want to leave the Catholic church I know a great Evangelical one just up the road......

      June 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • MK

      OR Jackie could just not join any cult and think for her/him self.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • rftallent

      Jackie, do you get the impression that this is a failed attempt at a distraction to the problems that the Vatican has been facing? Oddly enough "Just Love" was published six years ago? Why complain now? And Sr. Farley never claimed that her book was in line with Catholic doctrine. I believe that nuns are the "boots on the ground" and are more in touch with the needs and realities of the people that the members of the ivory tower thousands of miles away.

      June 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • rftallent

      *than the members

      June 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  10. BD

    Religion, doing everything it can to bar the way of progress since 1 A.D.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • StandupforTruth

      Religion existed long before the birth of our Lord and Savior incarnate.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  11. Mike Mazzla

    F-ng a Catholic sounds like a lot of fun. NOT No thanks ill take an athiest

    June 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • latricoteuse

      The atheists don't want anything to do with you, either.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  12. Really?

    Catholics are about 1999 years behind reality. No one listens to these men with dresses anymore and certainly not the Adolph Youth Pope.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Judy

      You listen to the devil all you want on progress, I'll listen to Christ's Church

      June 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Rhymeless

      I always thought the pope looked a bit like Emperor Palpatine.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Curious

    "......Margaret A Farley, who teaches at Yale Divinity School.........."

    It's amazing, that in the 21st Century, some of the most renown universities in the country have Divinity Schools. Do they also have Astrology Schools, or any other schools of make believe?

    June 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      It's amazing that folks are uninformed in these days to simple facts.

      "Incorporated as the "Collegiate School," the insti'tution traces its roots to 17th-century clergymen who sought to establish a college to train clergy and political leaders for the colony."

      June 6, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • mariner I

      Welcome to the original "VoodooLounge" The University has aptly been referred to as "The Higher Hall of Lower Learning" It is astounding to realize that while a university is promoting intellectual awareness and growth, right along side of it they are still shackled to the superstions of the past. Religion is nothing more than a tool for powermongers of a different ilk if you will, to control the masses, just from a different direction. Witness the proliferation of late night whack jobs on christian tv selling their wares and its hard to believe we live in anything that resembles modernity. Men don't seem to like the idea of woman making suggestions that will improve their game. It's easy to see why for the most part especially the vatican, the men sound like their still whining from the crib. Mother's always right isn't she? "Boys, you have to put those dresses away, what will the neighbors think?" How dare those nuns tell those boys in the vatican that they need to grow up. Honestly, based on the way that I've seen my own species run things in this country politically, I think we could all learn a lot from woman and I have a feeling they would do a better job.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Curious

      Mark, I'm well aware that some of these Universities started out as religious schools. Some of them go back to the 1600's and were founded by people who had no problem burning people at the stake for practicing "witchcraft" or torturing people to death for committing "heresy" or "blasphemy". Of course, there are people today who would find nothing wrong with these practices. All you have to do is read some of the responses in the Belief Blog written by some of the religious loonies.

      June 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  14. Reality

    What the nun should have said:

    The reality of se-x, contraception and STD control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-
    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

    1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

    Followed by:
    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    June 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • sir_ken_g

      Yes I know a very Catholic woman who used one of the bottom methods. 2 unplanned kids. Hey they are very cute girls – but getting a kid through HS costs ~$200,000 and then there is college – otherwise bright family – they will all need college.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • mariner I

      Statistics are not the problem, Communication is the problem. Your statistical gathering of info sounds right out of the catholic church or the oral roberts school for the dumb, mute and blind. What we need is common sense. Your commentary is essentially promoting abstinence as the solution for a range of social problems but does not address long term systemic realities. This is not a one size fits all 101class. One of those social problems referred to is the ability to manipulate information in a way to make it seem plausable while in fact it is actually harmful. If your solution to the problem is to dumb it down as a soft sell to the unenlightened or misinformed, try mad magazine for your next comments. That catholic church/oral roberts sequipedalian banter won't play here. As you can tell from the construction of my comment here, we're not all the idiot's that you seem to think we are. Go back to your abacus and think about these things. You have a real deficit in the common sense department. Condoms save lives while faulty and irrational thinking can have you end up in the pit with cobras. Buy some extra life insurance down the road. Based on your commentary your going to need it because your thought process is really jammed up and the prognosis is not good.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • sir_ken_g

      mariner I – the stats seem correct – don't over react. He did not say that was necessarily the preferable order. (It's not) Go down a few choices and you are still on the 99.9% protected region.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Reality

      Actually, mastubation appears the way to go!!!

      June 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Reality

      Ooops, make that "masturbation appears to be the way to go".

      June 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Reality

      "Facts on Contraceptive Use

      January 2008 and June 2010


      • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

      • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

      • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]


      • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

      • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

      • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

      • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

      • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)


      • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]


      Percentage of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)
      Some examples

      Pill (combined)……… 8.7
      Tubal sterilization ……0.7
      Male condom ……….17.4
      Vasectomy…………… 0.2
      IUD (Copper-T)……….1.0
      (Masturbation mono or dual)………. 0

      No method 85.0" important to women and men wanting to get pregnant)

      (Abstinence) 0

      (Masturbation, mono or dual) 0

      More facts about contraceptives from



      Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

      Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
      Pill………….. 11,661……………. 30.6
      Male condom 6,841……………… 18.0 "

      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

      i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
      during the first year of pill use.

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      June 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  15. Ryan Purcell

    Reblogged this on Time's Wasting.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  16. derp

    Love it! Pope Adolf creates a best seller.

    What else can catholics fvck up?

    June 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  17. Alien Orifice

    Gay marriage. Nuns fighting the church. What else can go right? Jeez.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  18. fernace

    If mas.tur.bation is considered a "gravely disordered act," what would they "consider" pedophilia? Also, it seems a bit convenient to criticize this nun & her 6yr. old book now, in the light of their ongoing cover-up case, because of pederast priests knowingly being moved by their superiors from church to church, to continue the abuse of little boys! Talk about misplaced priorities! Sorry RCC, your "timely" attack on American "rogue nuns" (an oxymoron, if ever there was 1), will not distract us from the deplorable acts of your clergy & your less than anemic attempts at justice! Sr. Farley Should start her own group, as the Church has suggested!!

    June 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      What they either conveniently forgot to mention, or never bothered to learn, is that a "gravely disordered act" is precisely 1/3 of their picture.

      The Roman Catholic Catechism has 3 requirements for Mortal Sin.
      a. grave matter
      b. full knowledge
      c. complete consent

      Apparently Benny is a mind reader. Oh well. Back to Grade 2 Benny. 😈

      June 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • gerald


      Don't see where B16 said anyone had committed a mortal sin. Not sure where you are coming from in your comment except from a perspective of twisting or ignorance. Of course you claim to be some Catholicism expert. We can of course judge if something is a grave matter but all three criteria need to be met.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  19. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    "Vatican reprimand sends American nun's book up bestseller lists"



    Pope Ratty : "oh sh1t".

    June 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Judy

      I love the Pope!

      June 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • What

      Right. The Church should just let its employees go against its teaching without comment. And the NAACP should let its employees express support for white supremacy. Half wit.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  20. Huebert

    So who else saw this comeing?

    June 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • helen keller

      o nudt sdnit rhet u fid bit aee rhis cimmong.

      June 6, 2012 at 11:48 am |
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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.