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TotusTuusMaria

Consecrated Virgin vs. Consecrated Woman

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TotusTuusMaria

Hoping someone can well articulate for me the differences between a consecrated woman (like those of Miles Christi) and a consecrated virgin. Are not the consecrated women also sometimes consecrated virgins?

 

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Nunsuch

There are consecrated virgins in this phorum who can say more. But, most simplistically, not all consecrated women are virgins. 

In the US alone, for instance, I know of 2 congregations of women religious which were founded by unwed mothers, and at least 4 that were founded by divorcees. MANY women who have been married, as well as those who may not have been entirely celibate prior to entrance into religious life, have become sisters. And, of course, many other forms of dedicated life, including oblates and secular orders, admit married persons. 

To become a consecrated virgin--a separate form of consecrated life from, say, religious congregations--one must be an actual virgin. However, it is my understanding that victims of sexual assault are still considered to be virgins in this context, as assault/rape are not acts of consensual sex but, rather, acts of violence in which the victim is not a willing participant.

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Sponsa-Christi

Technically, "Consecrated women" is an inclusive, umbrella term that includes women in all forms of consecrated life. Nuns, Sisters, female hermits, consecrated virgins, etc. are all consecrated women.

Consecrated virginity is one specific form of consecrated life for women, with one requirement for this vocation being literal virginity. (I much prefer the term "literal virginity" rather than "physical virginity" because, as Nunsuch noted, women who were victims of abuse or violence can still be considered virgins in the eyes of the Church.)

So, all consecrated virgins are consecrated women, but not all consecrated women are consecrated virgins.

There are some women members of lay movements like Miles Christi who take private vows and call themselves "consecrated women." However, strictly speaking they would not be considered "consecrated" according to canon law, since their vows aren't formally recognized by the governing authority of the Church (as would be the case for women religious) and they don't receive the specific Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity from a bishop (as is the case with consecrated virgins).

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Chiquitunga

Consecrated women of for instance Miles Christi (or Regnum Christi) are not technically Consecrated persons then right but part of the Laity, right? (although in JPIIs Vita Consecrata he makes reference at the end generally to such persons right?)

Sponsa-Christi also gives a great explanation of the differences here on her blog, http://sponsa-christi.blogspot.com/2010/12/consecrated-virginity-versus-private.html?m=1

Women in secular institutes on the other hand do take public vows, correct? (& therefore are considered Consecrated persons in the eyes of the Church)

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Sponsa-Christi
2 hours ago, Chiquitunga said:

Consecrated women of for instance Miles Christi (or Regnum Christi) are not technically Consecrated persons then right but part of the Laity, right? (although in JPIIs Vita Consecrata he makes reference at the end generally to such persons right?)

The Church uses the word "laity" in two ways: 1. referring to everyone who is not ordained clergy (i.e., bishops, priests, and deacons), in which sense even consecrated virgins and cloistered nuns would be considered "lay"; and 2. everyone who is not clergy or in a public state of consecrated life. In the second sense, "consecrated women" in Miles Christi would technically be lay, whereas CVs and religious would not. 

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Sponsa-Christi
2 hours ago, Chiquitunga said:

Women in secular institutes on the other hand do take public vows, correct? (& therefore are considered Consecrated persons in the eyes of the Church)

From an academic canonical perspective, this is still an unanswered question! Secular institute members technically make private, not public vows--and this one fact is the "hinge" which distinguishes them from religious. That is, if they were institutes that made public vows, they would be definition be religious and not secular institutes. 

Yet, the private vows of SI members are received in the name of a legitimate Church authority, and this kind of official reception is actually a defining characteristic of what makes a vow public. Because of this discrepancy, some commentators have argued that there should be a third category of "semi-public" vows, but right now this category doesn't actually exist in canon law.

Because of this and similar confusing definitions and elements, the question of whether--or at least precisely in what sense--SI members can be considered "consecrated" is also still open to debate. 

HOWEVER, this information is all very technical, and shouldn't necessarily be the factor that takes first place in someone's discernment. Just because someone might not be considered technically "consecrated" in canon law doesn't mean that they're not living out the evangelical counsels in actual fact. 

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