NEWS:  July 31, 2018
donate Books CDs HOME updates search contact

Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães
CONSECRATED VIRGINS IN THE SPOTLIGHT – When I heard the expression consecrated virgins for the first time, I experienced a relief. Indeed, in a world infected with immorality and poisoned with the obsessively erotic philosophy of Freud, to know that some women were reacting against the modern sexual mindset and had decided to take the very opposite position raised in me a great admiration and solace: At least some women still do what should be done!

St Veneranda

St. Veneranda, virgin & martyr, 2nd century, lived in a cave in Sicily

To know that there was a group committed to protect this lifestyle brought to my mind a breeze of that same fresh air that I felt when I read about women in the early Church who retired to hermitages to live a life separated from the world. It also brought to mind those admirable medieval ladies, including Queens and Princesses, who took vows of virginity even when they were married, such us Empress St. Cunigunde, wife of Emperor St. Henry, whose feast day we celebrated recently (July 15). So, I have a highly favorable outlook when I consider the consecrated virgins.

It was, therefore, with concern that I read the news reports the Vatican issued on July 4, 2018, a document reforming the group of consecrated virgins to include women who are not virgins. It seems a blatant contradiction: an action as inconsistent as trying to introduce a group of gourmets into a penitent association that practices abstinence. So, I decided to read the document with the hope I could give some support to the consecrated virgins.

My initial idea of the expression consecrated virgins was quite different than the actual situation I discovered. As a matter of fact, some decades ago, I had to study the situation of laymen living in the world who decide to take vows or promises in order to walk more perfectly on the path of glorifying God and saving their souls. The presupposition that I found was a complete liberty for a person to take the vow or promise he desires. This splendid freedom of the Church can be synthesized in that wise phrase of St. Augustine: Voveat quod voere voluerit (1) – “Let each one take the vow that he pleases.”

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz

Card. Braz de Aviz of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, targeting the consecrated virgins

So, I imagined that the present day consecrated virgins had this full liberty to make or unmake their promises or vows, and that the qualification of consecrated was just a way to emphasize the fact that they made a solemn ceremony with the Church’s approval when they took their vow. I thought that this left them free throughout their lives to do “as they please.”

My idea was absolutely wrong! As I progressed in my reading of the document Ecclesia sponsae imago my shock increased. The consecrated virgins have no liberty at all – the only two instances of liberty are the first choice to become a virgin and the choice to abandon this state. After expressing their first intention, they are entangled in an iron net where they essentially lose the possibility to decide anything for themselves.

Reading the document I realized that the bait to catch these virgins in the net’s steely meshes is twofold:
  • The progressivist Church manipulates the word consecrated in the ideal of the consecrated virgin;

  • It also plays with the notion of the Ordo virginum, the order of virgins.
Let me try to explain.

Manipulating the consecration

As far as I know, the difference between a perpetual personal promise and a perpetual official vow is that the vow is made before the Church after a period of trial and the promise is made in private. Making the vow before the Church means it is accepted by an official representative of the Church – a bishop or his delegate. The ceremony of the consecrated virgins fulfills this requirement.

Now, let me analyze the content of the consecration. A personal promise is a personal contract between a person and God. A person can be released from it by a spiritual director or a Bishop.

Consecrated virgin ceremony

Ceremony of consecration of a virgin before her Bishop

Solemn public vows of obedience and poverty are contracts between the person and a Religious Order (2) acting with the official blessing of the Church. These contracts to obey and embrace poverty follow the Order’s rule as established by its Founder or its Chapter, depending on the case. Consequently, these contracts can be dismissed and annulled by the Order’s Superior or its Chapter.

The solemn perpetual vow of chastity or virginity, however, is not a contract between the individual and the Order, but a contract between the person and God made under the official approval of the Church. It can only be dismissed by God or His Vicar on earth, the Sovereign Pontiff. So, only the Pope can dismiss an official and perpetual vow of chastity or virginity.

Now then, in the document Ecclesia sponsae imago, it is clearly stated that the Bishop can dismiss the virgin from her consecration. It affirms:
  • “The final decision concerning acts of major importance remains the competence of the diocesan Bishop. Such acts include: admission to consecration; inscription of a consecrated woman from another Diocese into the diocesan Ordo virginum; dispensation from the obligations of consecration; dismissal from the Ordo virginum …” (n. 50)

  • “If a consecrated woman is accused of very serious external and imputable crimes or failings against the obligations arising from her consecration … the Bishop will begin the process of dismissal. He will therefore inform the woman about the accusations and the proofs that have been collected, giving her the opportunity for defense. If the Bishop considers her defense insufficient, and there is no other way to provide for her correction, for the restoration of justice and reparation of the scandal, he will dismiss her from the Ordo virginum. (n. 72)
In other words, if the Bishop has the power to dismiss a woman from her vow of virginity, this necessarily means that there is not a solemn vow, but a private promise, because a solemn vow of virginity would require being annulled by the Pope.

So, unless I am missing something here, the Vatican and the Bishops are fraudulently using the word consecration in the expression consecrated virgins. This consecration actually is not what it implies it is – a perpetual vow of virginity. Rather, it is solely a private promise accepted and maintained at the discretion of the Bishop.

In my next article, which I hope to post soon, I shall analyze how the notion of Ordo Virginum is also being used inappropriately. After explaining these two baits, I shall show the tyrannical way the consecrated virgins are being controlled by the progressivist dioceses in order to transform these women into efficient activists of the Conciliar Revolution.

Continued

  1. St. Augustine, Enarr. In Psalm. 25, n. 16, in Patrologia Latina (Migne) 36, col. 967.
  2. Here I am taking the expression Religious Order in a colloquial way; actually it includes, besides the Religious Orders, also Religious Congregations, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life that have solemn official vows made before the Church.