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Virgins for Life

June 5, 2009

Here’s an excerpt from a Boston Globe Magazine article that ran recently:

Consecrated virgins have existed in the Catholic Church longer than nuns. The tradition died out around the ninth century but has made a comeback after the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, in the 1960s emphasized the idea that everyone is called to holiness. Women who join the Order of Virgins feel called to Christ, much like a priest or a nun does. And, as with priests and nuns, the Catholic Church recognizes consecrated virginity as a distinct vocation. Unlike nuns, however, consecrated virgins don’t take a vow of poverty. Instead, they live in their own homes and support themselves by working in jobs outside the church.

You can read the whole thing here:

I am open to the possibility that the lifestyle they lead is true to these women’s vocational call. That said, I have major issues with this whole thing:
  • The focus on virginity hypersexualizes women yet again. Instead of pledging lives committed to God holistically, their pledge centers around their sexuality, thereby reducing the totality of this major life commitment to the renunciation of sex, and equating women’s worth and status to what they do or do not do with their bodies.
  • Why is this only for women? If living a pledged celibate life as a religious, while maintaining a life in the secular world is a true vocation for women, shouldn’t it be one for men too? The history behind it is that only women can “prove” their virginity, although thankfully this is not required of the women who would like to be consecrated now. I did a little bit of research, and apparently lay men can take a private vow of celibacy to their bishop, but there is no public ceremony, and they are traditionally not called virgins by the church. Shocking that we would celebrate women’s virginity with a public “wedding” and not particularly give a crap about the men as they relate to this whole issue.
  • From the website of Consecrated Virgins: “she must be admitted to this Consecration by her local Bishop; it is he who determines the conditions under which the candidate is to undertake a life of perpetual virginity lived in the world.” And so yet again, men are the keepers of women’s virginity and purity. 
If anyone would like to write a recommendation letter for me to be a consecrated virgin, here is a sample letter:
Free love,

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