Catholic World News

ABC: Consecrated virginity ‘controversial’

July 15, 2011

An ABC Nightline human-interest story on consecrated virgins attempted to portray consecrated virginity as a “controversial Catholic rite.”

In a story headlined “Consecrated Virgins Become Brides of Christ in Controversial Catholic Rite,” Bryan Taylor and Jenna Milman reported that “the vocation has always been controversial. It was banned for many centuries until Pope John Paul II reinstated it.”

In truth, the Order of Virgins was restored in 1970, eight years before Blessed John Paul II took office. “The Order of Virgins is a special expression of consecrated life that blossomed anew in the Church after the Second Vatican Council,” Pope Benedict said in 2008. “Its roots, however, are ancient; they date back to the dawn of apostolic times when, with unheard of daring, certain women began to open their hearts to the desire for consecrated virginity, in other words, to the desire to give the whole of their being to God, which had had its first extraordinary fulfillment in the Virgin of Nazareth and her ‘yes.’”


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  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Jul. 18, 2011 5:21 PM ET USA

    It seems we need to do a better job as a church explaining this beautiful state (I suspect very few Catholics could explain this). Thank you, Judith, for providing the website reference.

  • Posted by: Judith - Jul. 16, 2011 11:02 AM ET USA

    There's beautiful symbolism here: the priest (always male), represents in a particular way Christ Himself as Bridegroom to the Church. The consecrated virgin (always female), represents in a particular way the Church as Bride to Jesus the Bridegroom. Cardinal George recently explained in his column in Catholic New World, speaking of the consecration of virgins, "the church comes to a clearer understanding of herself as virgin and mother, the bride of Christ." Judith Stegman, president USACV

  • Posted by: Franz10108953 - Jul. 15, 2011 11:18 PM ET USA

    Paul2010593, Not all professed religious women are consecrated virgins. The Sisters of the Resurrection were founded by a mother (widowed) and her daughter. St. Rita was a wife and mother before she became a professed Augustinian nun. Consecrated virgins generally don't live in community the way other professed religious do.

  • Posted by: Basil - Jul. 15, 2011 7:00 PM ET USA

    Apparently, these are non-monastics who have never had sex and have no intention to do so. But, from a Christian moral standpoint, doesn't anyone (male or female) who has never been married tacitly maintain a celibate status? Plus, I'm confused by the bride of Christ thing. The Church is the Bride of Christ, so technically Christ is Bridegroom to all of us as it says in the Scriptures. By making this a women's thing it's making it sexual as if only women can be brides of Christ. I'm confused.

  • Posted by: jjen009 - Jul. 15, 2011 6:30 PM ET USA

    It was banned for many centuries ...
    Was the order of consecrated virgins banned? Or did it simply fall into desuetude? jj

  • Posted by: Judith - Jul. 15, 2011 6:28 PM ET USA

    In 1970, when the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity was restored for women living in the world, the Church explained this ancient custom as "constituting the candidate a sacred person, a surpassing sign of the Church's love for Christ, and an eschatological image of the world to come and the glory of the heavenly Bride of Christ." The Order of Virgins is a distinct form of Consecrated Life, differing from religious life. visit the USACV website - Judith Stegman, president USACV

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jul. 15, 2011 6:10 PM ET USA

    I agree that there should be no controversy here. The consecrated virgin is a physical virgin who intends to remain so. Professed religious do not have to be physical virgins, either male or female, but they do have to vow chastity/celibacy. There are saints who have been married and then entered or even founded religious orders.

  • Posted by: paul20105493 - Jul. 15, 2011 3:59 PM ET USA

    Perhaps I'm incorrect on this, but aren't all professed religious women - who have been around a bit longer than 1970 - considered to be consecrated virgins, even if that isn't in the name of their order? I would welcome any correction. But in a media culture where a high school athlete who DOES NOT act like a drunken hedonist is the one who is mocked and considered wrong (Tim Tebow for example), it's no surprise at all that ABC considers virginity controversial.