An American nun's decision to publish her progressive opinions on sexual matters from gay relationships to masturbation has left conservative cardinals at the Vatican seeing red.
"Among the many errors and ambiguities of this book are its positions on homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage," said the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith yesterday in a stiff denunciation of the book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, by Sister Margaret A Farley.
It appears to be her thoughts on self-pleasuring that have really got the cardinals worked up. She writes: "Masturbation ... usually does not raise any moral questions at all ... It is surely the case that many women ... have found great good in self-pleasuring – perhaps especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure – something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers."
Despite its outrage, the Vatican has been moving with its usual glacial speed in seeking to change what it considers offensive material. The book was first published in 2006 and the Holy See has been in dispute with the transgressive nun since 2010.
Observers suggested yesterday that the public denunciation of the book has guaranteed thousands of extra sales for its author.