The Vatican on Monday sharply criticized a book on sexuality written by a prominent American nun, saying it contradicted church teaching on issues like masturbation, homosexuality and marriage and that its author had a “defective understanding” of Catholic theology.

The Vatican’s orthodoxy office said the book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics” by Sister Margaret Farley, a member of the Sisters of Mercy religious order and emeritus professor of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, posed “grave harm” to the faithful.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that in the 2006 book, Farley either ignored church teaching on core issues of human sexuality or treated it as merely one opinion among many.

Farley said Monday she never intended the book to reflect current official Catholic teaching. Rather, she said, she wrote it to explore sexuality via various religious traditions, theological resources and human experience.

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