In the Catholic Church, a consecrated virgin has been consecrated by the church to a life of perpetual virginity as an exclusive spouse of Christ. Consecrated virgins are consecrated by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite. The Consecrated virgins are to spend their time in works of penance and mercy, in apostolic activity and in prayer, according to their state of life and spiritual gifts. Once they have joined the vocation, they “dedicate themselves” to God, they wear wedding rings and cannot marry or engage in sexual relationships.
Unlike nuns, they take on no role within the church. Instead of joining a religious order, they continue to live in their own homes and work in conventional jobs. “Since this form of consecrated life was reintroduced in the church, there has been a real revival of the Ordo virginum [Order of Virgins],” said Archbishop Jose Rodríguez Carballo, secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
The Catholic Church is now changing its rules for becoming consecrated virgin, perhaps trying to keep pace with the times. They are loosening the rules for women who want to “marry Jesus” and become “consecrated virgins,” saying they no longer have to actually be virgins.
The Telegraph reports:
The Vatican document, entitled Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago, says that the "call to give witness to the Church’s virginal, spousal and fruitful love for Christ is not reducible to the symbol of physical integrity.
"Thus to have kept her body in perfect continence or to have practised the virtue of chastity in an exemplary way, while of great importance with regard to the discernment, are not essential prerequisites in the absence of which admittance to consecration is not possible."
The US Association of Consecrated Virgins issued a statement calling the document "deeply disappointing" and said the advice was "shocking". "The entire tradition of the Church has firmly upheld that a woman must have received the gift of virginity – that is, both material and formal (physical and spiritual) – in order to receive the consecration of virgins," it said.
If the Vatican truly believes that virginity isn’t essential for someone who wants to dedicate her life to the Church, it should apply the rule to nuns and priests as well. The study from last year examining child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church already confirmed that the institution’s celibacy requirement continues to be “the major precipitating risk factor” in abuse cases — and that the Church’s “deeply homophobic environment” makes things even worse. Let’s hope the rules change for more people in the years to come.
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