International Congress Pilgrimage of Consecrated Virgins, Rome Day III

Four very beautiful presentations were given at the congress this day. One was by Archbishop Raymond Burke. Another was by Judith Stegman, another by a French Archbishop and the last by a consecrated virgin from Italy. An update will be given on those talks later. Among the many subjects spoken about within the addresses, two important facts were touched on. One was confirmation from Rome that physical virginity outside of the case of rape or incest is absolutely necessary for the consecration. The other is that only the virgin’s diocesan bishop can confer the sacramental upon her. It cannot be given, for example, by the bishop’s delegate, nor by Abbots, nor anyone else to the virgin living in the world.

Below you can find a quick interview of one of the consecrated virgins present at the congress.

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6 Responses to International Congress Pilgrimage of Consecrated Virgins, Rome Day III

  1. an aspiring consecrated virgin says:

    Dear Therese,

    I found your blog through your comment on mine. I haven’t been able to find much information about the International Pilgrimage in Rome, so I’m grateful for what you have included here.

    One question I have: you mentioned that Rome affirmed that only the diocesan bishop can consecrate a virgin. Does “diocesan bishop” necessarily mean the Ordinary, or can it also refer to an auxiliary bishop within the candidate’s diocese, as has typically been held? Keeping in mind that under usual circumstances it is more appropriate for the Ordinary to be the consecrating bishop, is there now a question of validity regarding the consecrations conferred by auxiliary bishops?

    Also, is there any place where I could find the text of some of the presentations from the International Pilgrimage (particularly this text in question)? Thanks!

  2. Therese Ivers, JCL says:

    Excellent question! To begin with, the Vatican will be publishing the proceedings of the International Congress. They are currently working on the translations right now as it was done in five different languages. When published, I assume that they will be available to order online or through major associations of consecrated virgins located in various places in the world.

    If I recall correctly, Archbishop Burke mentioned in passing in his talk on the Rite of Consecration that he had it from a good source that the Vatican had sanated a consecration that was not given by the local ordinary (read: diocesan bishop). Such a sanation implies that although that bishop had delegated the consecration to another, it was invalid because the consecration of virgins living in the world is reserved solely to the diocesan bishop (and to the Pope). Since this was such an important issue because it involves the validity of the consecration, I spoke with the Archbishop later that day and he told me that he would be examining the matter further and hoped to get a clarification.

    Canonists are divided on whether the consecration may be given validly by an auxiliary bishop even if they are delegated by the local bishop. It seems certain that a priest may not be delegated or even an Abbot if the virgin is living in the world (for a religious, I believe there is an exception in favor of an Abbot to confer it on his female religious counterparts). Hence, for the sake of validity, it is advisable to exercise caution and to receive the consecration by the bishop spelled out in the Rite, or to have the auxiliary bishop in question send a dubium to Rome to receive a definitive answer.

    I hope this helps.


  3. an aspiring consecrated virgin says:

    As much as I hate to discuss this in public (I couldn’t find an e-mail address anywhere on the site), this question is of great personal significance to me as the date for my consecration is set for this January, and the Ordinary of my archdiocese had delegated it to the local auxiliary bishop.

    Could you please (Please!) share the names (and preferably locations, if they are on-line) of the articles and documents where this question is disputed? It doesn’t matter if they are highly technical or obscure—I have access to some decent libraries, including a seminary library, and I know some people with a canon law background. If I need to discuss the validity of my consecration with the people “in charge,” I’ll need to base my concerns on more than a blog entry (despite it being an entry from a very well-written blog).

    Thank you!

  4. Therese Ivers, JCL says:

    Dear Aspiring Consecrated Virgin,

    Unfortunately, we do not post our email publicly. However, we do have a contact page which may be used to send us a question or comment.

    Because the Vatican is publishing the texts and it is likely that they will take at the very least a few months, your likeliest chance of finding text is by contacting the Vatican directly and asking them whether a dispensation is needed for an auxiliary bishop to confer the consecration. That contact is normally done (easily) by the Bishop himself as all it takes is a quick fax. While your library and seminary library might be good, most things from the Vatican are extremely hard to get. Usually it involves having contacts in the Vatican if you’re not a bishop. I am a canon lawyer and I jumped through hoops while in Rome to get copies of documents from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life because these things are simply not available anywhere. There is no online or offline library that carries much on these subjects and that is one of the most frustrating aspects of canon law.

    As I mentioned on the blog comment above, I personally spoke with Archbishop Burke right after he gave that talk because I was seriously concerned about the validity of many virgin’s consecrations. He, too, was very concerned, but we were in agreement that locating the document and getting an official clarification on it by the Congregation would probably not happen any time soon. The Archbishop could not say anything definitive to me because he only got this info from a reliable source right before he arrived at the Congress in Rome… But, from the face of it, the sanation was genuine and carries legal implications for virgins around the world. This is why I strongly suggest that to be on the safe side, one receive the consecration from the diocesan bishop, not a delegate, or to ask that one of your bishops contact Rome.

    I am giving you a link to an excerpt of Archbishop Burke’s talk that I recorded on this subject. It is for personal use only as it is copyrighted.


  5. an aspiring consecrated virgin says:

    Dear Therese,

    Many, many thanks for your response! I e-mailed a link to this post to our diocesan Vocation Director, and he is looking into the matter for me.

    One more question: if it turns out that an auxiliary bishop is not able to confer consecration, would such a consecration be truly invalid, or only illicit? (Or is this also a disputed question?)

  6. Therese Ivers, JCL says:

    This is just an update for those following this issue… In continuing my research, I discovered the recent Ceremonial for Bishops states that the Bishop may delegate another Bishop to confer the consecration. Presumably this may not be sub-delegated to a priest.

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