By special authorization of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church*, I have convened an emergency session of the Anglican Inquisition to evaluate the book Just Love by Margaret Farley, RSM, which we, like the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, find to suffer from several errors and ambiguities. Here is our report:
With this notification, the Anglican Inquisition expresses profound amusement regret that a member of an Institute of Consecrated Life, Sr. Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M., affirms positions that are in direct conflict with Anglican teaching on both important points, namely cake and death. The Inquisition warns the faithful that her book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics is not in conformity with the teaching of the Church. Consequently it cannot be used as a valid expression of Anglican teaching, either in the preparation of post-eucharistic refreshments, or in ecumenical or interfaith potluck dinners.
We also note with approval the condemnation of the same book by our brothers of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Church. As the book does not purport to be a work of Anglican theology or ethics, it is perhaps more relevant to note the ways in which it fails to adequately represent Catholic teaching, which the Anglican Inquisition finds to be a matter of grave concern. The Congregation found the book to be in error in its “positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage.”
We consider it a grave matter that a Catholic ethicist and religious sister would attempt to create some breathing room for contemporary Catholics around what must seem like rigid points of church teaching. We consider the Catholic Church’s teaching on masturbation to be a serious matter because, frankly, we’re not sure what Catholic priests would do with their time if they weren’t obliged to listen to teenagers’ angsty confessions. Likewise, we oppose any room for ambiguity in Catholic teaching in matters of marriage, divorce, and the sex lives of same-sex couples, as it might mean we would have to do actual work. Since Catholic teaching is so inflexible on these points, all we have to do to get new members is put up a sign that says “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You,” and disaffected Catholics just show up out of the woodwork. Or if we’re feeling really proactive, we might put up a rainbow flag or distribute fliers about our upcoming wine and cheesecake fundraiser. Which brings us back to the matter of cake.
It is the Anglican Inquisition’s recommendation that Dr. Farley, her immediate superior in her religious community, and the academic dean of Yale Divinity School each be given a coupon for one (1) free slice of cake from the bakery of their choosing. Each diocese should urge its parishes and missions to take up a special collection to offset the cost three slices of cake. Furthermore, we suggest that Joseph Britton, Dean and President of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, arrange for Dr. Farley and her ecclesial and academic supervisors to be invited to tea.
And Dr. Farley, if you get sick of being condemned by Inquisitions, just take a look at the sign on any Episcopal Church.
*By “special authorization,” I mean that I mentioned that I was going to do it a few minutes ago on Twitter, and nobody from Lambeth or the Episcopal Church Center tweeted back to say I couldn’t. I take that as a yes.