Religion: Christian Virgins

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church has regarded virginity as a state of perfection superior even to marriage. But this is a concept that many modern Catholics—theologians as well as laymen—find difficult to accept. The last church legislation governing the ritual profession of virginity was issued in 1596. Thus the pronouncement from Rome last week was received by most Catholics with some surprise and bewilderment: the Vatican has revived, in a shorter version, an ancient rite of virginal consecration. It will enable Catholic women to take a public vow of virginity while still remaining within secular society, much as women did in...

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