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Virginity no longer necessary to become a ‘Bride of Christ,’ Vatican says

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A new Vatican document sparked ire among consecrated virgins with a ruling that virginity is no longer a prerequisite to become a “ Bride of Christ . ”The document , Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago , published by the Vatican ’ s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on July 4 , serves as a new instructional concerning consecrated virginity .

The instructional clarifies that while physical virginity and chastity are important aspects of the life of a “ bride of Christ , ” they are not prerequisites to the extent that , if unmet , would absolutely disqualify a woman from being consecrated as one .

“ 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 document reads.

“ Brides of Christ ” are consecrated virgins who, like nuns , are unmarried and offer their physical virginity as a sign of the total surrender of their selves to Christ .

Unlike nuns , however , they do not live in convents and typically work and provide for themselves .

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There are approximately 5 , 000 consecrated virgins in 42 countries , with most residing in Argentina , France , and Italy , according to The Guardian .

In reaction , Brides of Christ who led lives of physical virginity lambasted the new instructional from the Vatican , calling it “ disappointing ” and “ shocking . ”

The U. S . Association of Consecrated Virgins said Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago is “ deeply disappointing in its denial of integral virginity as the essential and natural foundation of the vocation . ”

“ It is shocking to hear from Mother Church that physical virginity may no longer be considered an essential prerequisite for consecration to a life of virginity , ” the statement added , according to The Guardian .

The USACV clarified that while some may interpret the new instructional to say that rape victims are still eligible for consecrated virginity , that has been the case since before the publication of Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago .

They also asserted that if that was the intended message , the document could have directly addressed that issue.

With regard to women who voluntarily lose their virginity , the USACV asserted that such women can offer themselves as a gift to Christ , but they cannot be consecrated virgins .

“ When a virgin offers her virginity to Christ , she offers her integral virginity – physical and spiritual .

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“ A woman who does not have the gift of virginity to offer may offer a complete gift of self to Christ , but she is not offering a gift of virginity , ” the USACV wrote .

“ A gift of one ’ s integral virginity to Christ is a gift of both body and spirit , and one cannot offer to Christ what one does not have to offer . ”

( Daily Caller )

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