Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Catholic Sexual Ethics and the Category of Justice: A Reminder about Margaret Farley's Pioneering Work

Yesterday, as I looked at the statement made by German moral and pastoral theologians in response to Pope Francis's call for input about the issues of contraception, same-sex marriage, and family in preparation for the upcoming Synod on the Family, I wrote,

To me, it's rather refreshing to hear Catholic moral theologians who are dealing with the church's sexual ethical teachings begin--at long last--to talk about the effect of those teachings in terms of care and justice. For a long time now, too many Catholic moral theologians have pretended that we can prescind from any consideration of matters of care and justice as we place human beings--particularly members of targeted minority groups--under a microscope and dissect their pathologies and their "disordered" acts while we do sexual ethics.

As I thought about that statement during the rest of the day, it occurred to me that I very much need to remind readers of the important work in the field of sexual ethics done by Margaret Farley. In 2012, I did a series of postings excerpting material from Farley's significant book Just Love (which the U.S. Catholic bishops found objectionable). As that series of postings notes, Farley has been a pioneer among Catholic theologians in applying the norm of justice to Catholic teachings about human sexuality. 

She has been a pioneer in insisting that we cannot adequately do sexual ethics while prescinding from questions about justice. And it's perhaps for that insistence that the U.S. Catholic bishops think her theology is not sufficiently Catholic and not sufficiently deferential to the magisterium.

Here's the first in that series I did in 2012 regarding Just Love. Click on Farley's name in the label below that posting, and the whole series should pop up, in case you're interested in it.

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