The pope and his men in the Vatican never fail to surprise me. I often marvel at their obsession with what goes on in other peoples' bedrooms. But now, Vatican officials have raised the bar, turning on American nuns who contradicted the church's advice.
The Holy See's most intolerant branch, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently condemned a book written by Sister Margaret Farley in 2006 titled "Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics," which challenges some of the church's teachings, particularly in her support for gay marriage and marriage following divorce. But it is her view on female masturbation what is perhaps the most incendiary for the men running the church.
Farley writes that many women "have found great good in self-pleasuring something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers." For Vatican officials, however, this is scandalous talk -- and forbidden.
In her book, Farley acknowledges ordinary Catholics' demand for change regarding the church's rigid notions of sexual morality. Rather than pay attention to the opinions of laypeople, officials at the Vatican prefer to go on the attack.
Farley's reprimand comes a couple of months after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith criticized the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a group of more than 1,500 American nuns, accusing them of promoting "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith," which include supporting the rights of gays to be married and asking why women are forbidden to become ordained priests.
But the real problem is that these women are questioning the Catholic Church's structure, which was founded on the assertion that only men should be in power.
Rather than instinctually condemning women's views, officials should listen to them. After all, with the thousands of cases that have surfaced around the world of priests sexually abusing minors, isn't it clear yet that the Vatican's main problem is men, not women?