Sexual Purity is a Virtue of the Soul That Sanctifies The Body

St. Maria Goretti on pilgrimage in the United States (Photo: Charlotte Observer)
St. Maria Goretti on pilgrimage in the United States (Photo: Charlotte Observer)

I came across a blog post at Zippy Catholic the other day that was a response to an ongoing debate in the comments section of another blog post at OnePeterFive about whether Saint Maria Goretti died to preserve her virginal purity when her attacker attempted to rape her or whether she died trying to prevent her attacker from committing mortal sin if he were to be successful in his attempt.

There were some commenters who were offended at the idea that she died preserving her purity or virginity.  They claim that it insinuates that rape victims who were not successful at warding off their rapist or who did not put up much of a fight due to being threatened with severe bodily harm or death, were damaged goods, rendered sexually impure or somehow sinful in not fighting to the death in preventing their rape.  There were other commenters defending that she did indeed die to preserve her purity.  There were some good points on both sides but sometimes that was lost in the lack of charity extended among the debaters due to speculation and assumptions about each other’s motives behind each of their arguments.  I think the offense comes in because it is assumed that by holding St. Maria Goretti up as an example of the value of purity, that it means victims of rape are obligated to fight to the death against their attacker lest they sin and ruin themselves.

When a woman is raped her sexual integrity is violated.  She does not will the rape to happen.  The bodily violation harms her physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Some of these wounds can be healed if she is made to understand that despite the harm done to her, it ultimately didn’t take away her worth or somehow make her dirty.  She has been sinned against and has had damage done to her but it doesn’t render her damaged goods.  She is not made impure or unchaste by what has been done to her.

St. Augustine taught this very clearly in The City of God, Chapter 18.  He wrote, “…purity is a virtue of the soul…what sane man can suppose that, if his body be seized and forcibly made use of to satisfy the lust of another, he thereby loses his purity? For if purity can be thus destroyed, then assuredly purity is no virtue of the soul; nor can it be numbered among those good things by which the life is made good.”  He goes on “I suppose no one is so foolish as to believe that, by this destruction of the integrity of one organ, the virgin has lost anything even of her bodily sanctity. And thus, so long as the soul keeps this firmness of purpose which sanctifies even the body, the violence done by another’s lust makes no impression on this bodily sanctity, which is preserved intact by one’s own persistent continence. ”

The commenters who are offended that she died to preserve her purity are right in that purity is not destroyed if a woman is raped.  Because it’s a virtue of the soul rather than the body, if a woman in her God-given freedom does not will to consent to intercourse but it is forced upon her, then she is still pure.

Another question comes to mind as well, “Is a virgin still a virgin, if she is raped against her will?”  Yes, she is, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Virginity.  The entry explains in the very first two sentences, “Morally, virginity signifies the reverence for bodily integrity which is suggested by a virtuous motive. Thus understood, it is common to both sexes, and may exist in a women even after bodily violation committed upon her against her will. ”

So what of Maria Goretti?  Because her virginity and purity would have remained, was it in vain that she chose to fight off her attacker to the death?  Absolutely not. Although her resistance to the death was not an obligation, it was an heroic act of love for God.  St. Maria Goretti exemplified heroic virtue, which goes beyond ordinary virtue, in her love for God above all things, even that of her very life.

Heroic virtue is a degree of perfection which, according to St. Thomas Aquinas,” belongs to the blessed in heaven or to a few of the most perfect in this life.”  Pope Benedict XIV wrote “In order to be heroic a Christian virtue must enable its owner to perform virtuous actions with uncommon promptitude, ease, and pleasure, from supernatural motives and without human reasoning, with self-abnegation and full control over his natural inclinations.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that ” An heroic virtue, then, is a habit of good conduct that has become a second nature, a new motive power stronger than all corresponding inborn inclinations, capable of rendering easy a series of acts each of which, for the ordinary man, would be beset with very great, if not insurmountable, diffulties.”

We know from St. Maria Goretti’s story that the incident in which she was murdered was not her first encounter with Alessandro. The defense of virtue that was considered in her canonization was not just the incident that lead to her death but her ongoing defense of it over a period of time.  He had been hounding her and sexually harassing her for months and she had vehemently refused and did what she could to run away from him.  This “habit of good conduct” combined with her great love of God taught to her by her parents and strengthened by the power of the Rosary said by her family each evening, all gave her an unshakable foundation on which her will was able to cooperate with the gift of supernatural grace given to her in order that she be a witness to the value of sexual purity before God.

For those who were raped and unable to fend off their attacker or who were rendered helpless under fear of the threat of death, St. Maria’s story should not make them feel as though they have sinned, are impure or have even lost their virginity if they were virgins when it happened.  If anything, St. Maria’s story should bring to light the horrible violation that is the sin of rape that was committed against them and against God.   Her story acknowledges the great value of the victim’s sexual integrity and the freedom they should have had to refuse and have that refusal be respected.

For most of us, we will not be called to martyrdom nor will we reach the highest degree of perfection attainable while we are still in this life.  However, by these stories of the heroic virtues of the saints, we should find inspiration to every day be striving after holiness and working towards that perfection we hope to have in the future as one of the blessed in heaven.

Here is a link to one of the better in-depth accounts of the story of St. Maria Goretti

https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/st-maria-goretti-alessandro-serenelli/

 

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30 thoughts on “Sexual Purity is a Virtue of the Soul That Sanctifies The Body

    1. Thank you, Elspeth. St. Augustine’s conclusions really do hit at the heart of the matter. If purity, chastity or viginity originated from and depended on bodily integrity, they would have no spiritual value. Rape may take many things from a woman such as her sense of security, autonomy and ability to trust (all of which can be healed over time) but if she is pure of heart and values chastity, the only one who can remove that from her soul is ultimately the woman herself.

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  1. Whatever St. Augustine said, St. Pius XII makes it EXTREMELY clear that the Saint died to protect her virginity and purity:

    Without warning a vicious stranger burst upon her, bent on raping her and destroying her childlike purity. In that moment of crisis she could have spoken to her Redeemer in the words of that classic, The Imitation of Christ: “Though tested and plagued by a host of misfortunes, I have no fear so long as your grace is with me. It is my strength, stronger than any adversary; it helps me and gives me guidance.” With splendid courage she surrendered herself to God and his grace and so gave her life to protect her virginity

    https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/st-maria-goretti-pope-pius-xii/

    Canonization is a papal declaration that the person is in Heaven, i.e., is certainly with God in glory. As a result the newly canonized person (now elevated to the honors of the altar by the official proclamation of the visible head of the Church Militant) now receives the public veneration by the faithful throughout the Universal Church. This honor and cult of veneration involves the faithful’s petitioning the Saint to intercede for them with God.

    Every person who reaches Heaven is, of course, a Saint, but in the long history of the Church a relative few have been declared a Saint by the process of Canonization conducted by the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. It is this Congregation which conducts a rigorous and exhaustive investigation into the heroic virtues of the candidate for Sainthood and the miracles attributed to him or her.

    In the early Church, martyrs, confessors, virgins, widows and others of the Christian faithful who had a reputation or holiness were acclaimed Saints by the decision of a bishop who added them to his local church’s Calendar of Saints, or who were regarded as Saints by the popular esteem and enthusiasm of the faithful. Such “popular canonization” resulted in local patron saints whose Feasts were not celebrated throughout the Universal Church. When a more formal process of canonization was begun by the Pope himself in the 10th century, it was now possible to proclaim a Saint for the entire Church.

    Pope Alexander III in 1170 decreed that no one could be venerated as a Saint of the Universal Church without Papal canonization. A distinction also began to be made in the 13th c. between Beatification and Canonization by the canonists of the time. Beatification would differ from Canonization by the Blessed’s receiving permission to be venerated by the faithful of a particular diocese, province, or religious order whereas Canonization resulted in a cultus of veneration which was universal and obligatory. Canonization also had the advantage of being an “ex cathedra” infallible judgment from the Chair of Peter involving the infallibility of the Church.

    In the 1947 Decree of Beatification of the Congregation of Rites (a section of which was transformed in 1969 into the Congregation for the Causes of Saints), we read the following concerning the heroic virtue of the young girl who died after being stabbed 14 times by the would-be rapist, 18 year old Alessandro Serenelli :

    “Never has there been a time when the palm of martyrdom was missing from the shining robes of the Spouse of Christ [the Church]. Even today in our very degraded and unclean world there are brief examples of unearthly beauty. The greatest of all triumphs is surely the one which is gained by the sacrifice of one’s life, a victory made holy by the blood-red garments of martyrdom. When, however, the martyr is a child of tender age with the natural timidity of the weaker sex such a martyrdom rises to the sublime heights of glory.

    This is what happened in the case of Maria Goretti, a poor little girl and yet very wonderful. She was a Roman country maid who did not hesitate to struggle and to suffer, to shed her life’s blood and to die with heroic courage in order to keep herself pure and to preserve the lily-white flowers of her virginity.

    It is very, very clear that she was canonized for preserving her purity and protecting her virginity from her attacker. St. Augustine was a great man, but wrong. The modern Catechism seems to also be contradicting Pope Pius XII.

    https://www.mariagoretti.org/likoudisarticle3.htm

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    1. Yes, she did die to protect and preserve her virginity and purity. Heroically so. I never said she didn’t. She went above and beyond what normal human reasoning or ordinary virtue would require in that situation.

      The Church clearly teaches that there is virtue and then there is heroic virtue.

      Catholic dictionary

      Virtue – A good habit that enables a person to act according to right reason enlightened by faith. Also called an operative good habit, it makes its possessor a good person and his or her actions also good. (Etym. Latin virtus, virility, strength of character, manliness.)

      Heroic Virtue – The performance of extraordinary virtuous actions with readiness and over a period of time. The moral virtues are exercised with ease, while faith, hope, and charity are practiced to an eminent degree. The presence of such virtues is required by the Church as the first step toward canonization. The person who has practiced heroic virtue is declared to be Venerable, and is called a “Servant of God.”

      Notice the wording from what you shared above about her canonization.

      “With splendid courage she surrendered herself to God and his grace and so gave her life…”

      “we read the following concerning the heroic virtue of the young girl….”

      “Even today in our very degraded and unclean world there are brief examples of unearthly beauty. ”

      “When, however, the martyr is a child of tender age with the natural timidity of the weaker sex such a martyrdom rises to the sublime heights of glory.”

      “She was a Roman country maid who did not hesitate to struggle and to suffer, to shed her life’s blood and to die with heroic courage…”

      The whole debate on those other sites missed the difference between having ordinary virtue in which one is still good and heroic virtue in which the heights of Christian perfection have been reached.

      Those who were offended misunderstood her dying to mean the difference between good and bad, pure and impure, virgin or non-virgin. When in reality we’re talking about degrees of good. A woman who is raped is still good. A woman who fights to the death for the sake of purity and love of God is a saint. I doubt the offended women, who said they were victims themselves, were offended because they are not declared saints. They mistakenly believed that the message is that they are impure or sinful if they don’t fight to the death. That is not true. It is Christian perfection to willingly and voluntarily fight to the death. It is not required though in order to remain pure or without sin in this situation.

      …and St. Augustine is not wrong and the modern catechism does not contradict the Pope.

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      1. Yes, she did die to protect and preserve her virginity and purity. Heroically so. I never said she didn’t. She went above and beyond what normal human reasoning or ordinary virtue would require in that situation.

        That wasn’t the point of contention; I’m not sure why you think it has anything to do with it, actually. This is:

        “…purity is a virtue of the soul…what sane man can suppose that, if his body be seized and forcibly made use of to satisfy the lust of another, he thereby loses his purity? For if purity can be thus destroyed, then assuredly purity is no virtue of the soul; nor can it be numbered among those good things by which the life is made good.”

        But St. Augustine is incorrect, as Pope Pius XII makes clear. The rape COULD have destroyed her virginity and purity. It is a physical state, not just a spiritual one.

        Similarly, when the Catholic Encyclopedia says this:

        Morally, virginity signifies the reverence for bodily integrity which is suggested by a virtuous motive. Thus understood, it is common to both sexes, and may exist in a women even after bodily violation committed upon her against her will.

        It is contradicted by Pope Pius XII’s claims that she died TO PROTECT HER VIRGINITY – the rape means she would have lost her virginity, which is a physical state.

        Similarly, we celebrate St. Pelagia of Antioch, who would probably have been martyred AFTER LOSING HER VIRGINITY, and chose to die to protect it. Despite the fact that it meant foregoing martyrdom, she was still canonized and celebrated.

        St. Augustine and the Catholic Encyclopedia are incorrect.

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      2. What you are doing is conflating pure and impure, virgin and non-virgin, and moral and immoral. To be pure, to be a virgin, is to be in a holy state.

        To be raped is not a sin, but it DOES mean – horrible as it is – that one is no longer pure and no longer a virgin.

        Think about how absurd this is. What this means also is that anybody who intends to have sex but is interrupted and then regains self-control is no longer a virgin and no longer pure. But that’s not true. The state is physical.

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      3. “Think about how absurd this is. What this means also is that anybody who intends to have sex but is interrupted and then regains self-control is no longer a virgin and no longer pure. But that’s not true. The state is physical.”

        They may have bodily integrity but their intention renders them impure. The beautiful thing is that we can confess, repent and do penance and regain our state of purity. St. Augustine’s life is a great example of that. If he was forever impure because of his sexual past, he would not have been fit for heaven or have been able to be declared a saint.

        If virginity depended on the state of the body, then a young teen could be considered no longer a virgin and impure from a gynecological exam. It’s the intention due to a love of purity and a love of God, that determines purity and virginity from a moral standpoint.

        I know you don’t hold Augustine’s teaching on this in high regard but for what it’s worth, he writes

        ” Suppose a virgin violates the oath she has sworn to God, and goes to meet her seducer with the intention of yielding to him, shall we say that as she goes she is possessed even of bodily sanctity, when already she has lost and destroyed that sanctity of soul which sanctifies the body? Far be it from us to so misapply words. Let us rather draw this conclusion, that while the sanctity of the soul remains even when the body is violated, the sanctity of the body is not lost; and that, in like manner, the sanctity of the body is lost when the sanctity of the soul is violated, though the body itself remains intact. And therefore a woman who has been violated by the sin of another, and without any consent of her own, has no cause to put herself to death; much less has she cause to commit suicide in order to avoid such violation, for in that case she commits certain homicide to prevent a crime which is uncertain as yet, and not her own.”

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  2. What this means also is that anybody who intends to have sex but is interrupted and then regains self-control is no longer a virgin and no longer pure. But that’s not true. The state is physical.

    A person who intends to sin is not pure. Our Lord said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

    I’m perfectly good and okay with saying St. Maria died to protect her purity, which included her virginity. We agree.

    However, given that every woman who ever walked the planet -even those with the darkest of hearts- is born a virgin, I have a hard time with this notion that physical virginity and spiritual purity are full equivalents..

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  3. “But St. Augustine is incorrect, as Pope Pius XII makes clear. The rape COULD have destroyed her virginity and purity. It is a physical state, not just a spiritual one.”

    No. The rape could not have destroyed her virginity or purity. Bodily integrity is a sign of an interior disposition of the virtue of purity. If that bodily integrity is VOLUNTARILY given up, whether in marriage or fornication, then the person is no longer materially a virgin. If the woman or man fornicated, then they are impure. If they are married they are still pure. If bodily integrity is violated, they are still considered a virgin because it lacked the voluntary nature of choosing to give it away. To quote the Catholic Encyclopedia “Virginity is irreparably lost by sexual pleasure, voluntarily and completely experienced.”

    “Similarly, when the Catholic Encyclopedia says this……..It is contradicted by Pope Pius XII’s claims that she died TO PROTECT HER VIRGINITY – the rape means she would have lost her virginity, which is a physical state.”

    The Catholic Encyclopedia is authoritative in terms of the information in it. If you disagree with what it says, your argument is not with me but with it. The preface states “. The Catholic Encyclopedia, as its name implies, proposes to give its readers full and authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine.”

    It doesn’t contradict Pope Pius XII. St. Maria did die to preserve her purity. She went above and beyond what was necessary out of love for God. It was heroic.

    “Similarly, we celebrate St. Pelagia of Antioch, who would probably have been martyred AFTER LOSING HER VIRGINITY, and chose to die to protect it. Despite the fact that it meant foregoing martyrdom, she was still canonized and celebrated.”

    Perhaps, it would be wise to read some more about St. Pelagia of Antioch before we go around telling people it’s better to commit suicide than be raped. Before the Church had any official way of determining canonization, often it was left up to a local bishop’s judgement. Many times the details of these stories can be quite fuzzy and often mixed together with details of other local legends.

    http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=811

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/pelagia.htm

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      1. “If you intend to disagree with me, fine, but do NOT lie about me. I never made and would never make the preposterous claim that it is better to commit suicide than to be raped.”

        Oh come now. It’s not personal. I didn’t lie about you. My point is that “we” (meaning Catholics/Christians) shouldn’t be holding up examples of wrong behavior that have since been condemned as what a woman should do if faced with the threat of rape. We never know who all will read what we say and may erroeously take it to heart.

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      2. Then you misunderstood the case I cited, which is far more analogous to St. Goretti’s than what you claim.

        I’m not interested in heroic virtue here. That’s not relevant. My point is that if Maria Goretti’s virginity and purity weren’t in some real way *actually at risk*, she died for nothing, and did nothing praiseworthy. Virginity and purity need to be an objective physical state independent of will, or to say Maria Goretti died for the sake of purity is literally nonsensical, since her purity would never have been in danger at all.

        This is why St. Augustine and the Catholic Encyclopedia must be incorrect if the Pope’s claims make any sense.

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    1. Your points about heroic virtue are a total red herring here. There is only virtue *if her purity and virginity were ever actually at risk*. But you are contending they were not, which is to say, her death was utterly meaningless.

      I know what the Encyclopedia claims. That makes it more of a shame that it’s incorrect.

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      1. “Your points about heroic virtue are a total red herring here. There is only virtue *if her purity and virginity were ever actually at risk*. But you are contending they were not, which is to say, her death was utterly meaningless.”

        No, it’s not a red herring. It’s church teaching. It’s never meaningless to die for the love of God or for the sake of virtue to a heroic degree. For one thing, one cannot be cannonized a saint if they have not practiced virtue to a heroic degree. That alone gives it all the meaning it would ever need.

        As I said in my post, her canonization was not just about the final incident. The totality of her defense of her purity, which includes the months in which he hounded her to consent to his wishes and she refused because she knew it would be a sin, are part of her heroic defense of purity.

        She was an 11 year-old illiterate peasant girl who would not have been able to tease out the fine points of theology and the difference between rape and consensual sex. She knew sex was a sin outside of marriage. Her mother taught her that. She loved God to such a degree (beyond what a normal 11 year-old would be capable) that she would rather die than give in to the sin of sexual relations. Regardless of whether her purity and virginity were actually at risk, she believed it to be so and was willing to die for it out of love for God. That takes heroic virtue.

        Here’s some more info on the difference between ordinary virtue and heroic virtue –

        St. Thomas Aquinas

        “Common virtue perfects man in a human manner, heroic virtue gives him a superhuman perfection. When a courageous man fears where he should fear, it is a virtue; if he did not fear in such circumstances, it would be temerity. But if he no longer fears anything, because he relies on the help of God, then it is a superhuman or Divine virtue.”

        Fr. Reginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

        “We must insist on the point that the heroic degree of virtue thus defined is relative to different ages of life. Heroic virtue in children is judged in relation to the common strength of virtuous children of the same age. If certain grown persons are morally very small, there are little children who by reason of their virtues are very mature.”

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      2. No, it’s not a red herring. It’s church teaching.

        Indeed it is. It’s just entirely irrelevant to my point.

        Regardless of whether her purity and virginity were actually at risk, she believed it to be so and was willing to die for it out of love for God. That takes heroic virtue.

        This is very strange. Now you’re saying that it counts as dying for her purity and virginity even though her purity and virginity were literally never at risk. It makes no sense.

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      3. Regardless of whether her purity and virginity were actually at risk, she believed it to be so and was willing to die for it out of love for God. That takes heroic virtue.

        This is very strange. Now you’re saying that it counts as dying for her purity and virginity even though her purity and virginity were literally never at risk. It makes no sense.

        It’s not strange. I’m speculating, I admit, but it’s not unreasonable speculation and it’s probably taking the conversation in another direction but it is a valid point. Do you think this 11-yr old, illiterate peasant girl would have worked out in her mind the difference between consensual sex and rape, the difference between voluntary and involuntary acts in regards to guilt for sin, the difference between bodily virginity and moral virignity and how one can affect the other but not in all situations?

        Bishops and Doctors of the Church wrestled with these questions for years before coming to certain conclusions. This whole concept goes into individual conscience and the question of “Is one guilty of sin if they believe it is a sin and commit it, even if it’s not in fact a sin?” What she most likely would have known at her age is limited to what her mother taught her about sex and how it is a mortal sin outside of marriage. In her 11 yr old understanding, what Alessandro wanted to do was sinful and her love for God was so great, that she would rather die than commit a mortal sin, which in itself is heroic for an 11yr old to make that choice with ease. She already had a history with him trying to get her to consent to sex leading up to that fateful day. What we can reason is that she probably understood at her age that God values purity, sex is a sin outside of marriage, she loved God so much that she didn’t want to sin (as much as she was able to understand it to be sin) against purity out of love for Him which goes beyond what she was morally obligated to do in fact.

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      4. You are going REALLY far to left field here. There is never a hint in any comment by anybody in reference to her Sainthood that the Saint did not know what she was doing when she sacrificed her life.

        Again, you keep trying to make this about heroic virtue. It’s not. Heroic virtue is a red herring. It has nothing to do with *this particular argument I am making right now*. That you keep bringing it up shows me that there’s something you’re just not getting here.

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      5. “You are going REALLY far to left field here. There is never a hint in any comment by anybody in reference to her Sainthood that the Saint did not know what she was doing when she sacrificed her life.”

        So? I said it was “reasonable speculation.” My speculation, however, was NOT that she didn’t know what she was doing. It was about how much, given her age and lack of education, she would have understood all the nuance regarding the theology around virginity, consent, rape etc. I said that we know she understood that sex outside of marriage was a mortal sin and that her love for God was so great that she’d rather die than commit a mortal sin. That’s very far from saying “she didn’t know what she was doing.”

        I probably shouldn’t have brought it up because I was really only typing out loud, so to speak, in response to thoughts that came to mind in what I offered in another comment about heroic virtue and how the heroic virtue of children is relative not to the virtue expected of an adult but what is relative to other children of similar age. I’m not hanging my hat on this point or trying to make it THE issue in response to the debate at hand. It was a side-thought not a main point.

        Again, you keep trying to make this about heroic virtue. It’s not. Heroic virtue is a red herring. It has nothing to do with *this particular argument I am making right now*. That you keep bringing it up shows me that there’s something you’re just not getting here.

        Yeah. I don’t get why you think it’s irrelevant.

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      6. “There is only virtue *if her purity and virginity were ever actually at risk*. But you are contending they were not, which is to say, her death was utterly meaningless.”

        You keep brushing aside the point of heroic virtue but that is the whole point of the matter. She was not morally obligated to choose death over virginity but she voluntarily did so because she loved God over her own life. What don’t you understand about that being a profound act of love? Have you never gone beyond the bare bones of what would constitute fulfilling an obligation by going the extra mile for the sake of someone else to please them or because you loved them? Would it have been meaningless to do so? Is laying down your life to save a stranger meaningless just because you don’t have a moral obligation to do so? When St. Maximillion Kolbe stepped up and offered to go to the gas chamber in place of a man who was a husband and father so he might have the chance of seeing his wife and kids someday did he do something meaningless just because he was not obligated to do so?

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      7. “But she did not choose death over virginity. Her virginity was never at risk in the first place. That’s the problem.”

        Look. You want to make a point that rape would make a person impure or no longer a virgin otherwise there is no value in being willing to die to avoid it. That is not the teaching of the Church. The value of choosing death is because the body matters and because the body is worth something in that it CAN signify that the person posseses the virtue of purity in their soul. This means that the body is sanctified by that virtue-purity. To be willing to die for that, when it’s not morally obligated, is a testament to the worthiness of the sanctification. Even though rape does not take away one’s status as virgin, or state of purity, or the body’s sanctification, those things can be violated which is no small matter. Just as desecrating the Eucharist doesn’t take away it’s holiness or the fact that it is the Real Presence, it’s still worth protecting from violation. Choosing to die for the sake of purity or virginity is to refuse the violation of them out of love for God and the high spiritual value they have. It is the perfection of Christian virtue which very few obtain this side of heaven.

        I have said all that I can possibly say regarding this subject without repeating myself endlessly. If you want to dispute St. Augustine and/or the authority by which the Church approved the Catholic Encylopedia, or even St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica regarding what constitues virginity, then you can. I know what these sources say and I trust that the Church in holding them up and offering them for the education of the laity is not purposely allowing misinformation or errors to perpetuate for years on end without correction.

        http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3152.htm#article1

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      8. Hi again,

        Look, I’m REALLY unimpressed by “appeals to book”, whatever it might be. Yes, a Catholic Encyclopedia at one time said something; it is a book meant to be a reference to Catholic doctrine and other minutia; it is not a 110% guarantee of accuracy in all cases. Yes, Augustine and Aquinas may or may not have held contrary opinions, something I’m not convinced is translated correctly anyhow.

        Good for them. I’m not doing this just to do it; I actually really don’t like this conclusion, and would prefer yours. But from what I can see, my conclusion is *the only way the Pope’s words make any sense*. No other interpretation seems to work.

        You eventually do actually respond to my point here (up until then you just kept repeating yourself):

        The value of choosing death is because the body matters and because the body is worth something in that it CAN signify that the person posseses the virtue of purity in their soul. This means that the body is sanctified by that virtue-purity. To be willing to die for that, when it’s not morally obligated, is a testament to the worthiness of the sanctification. Even though rape does not take away one’s status as virgin, or state of purity, or the body’s sanctification, those things can be violated which is no small matter. Just as desecrating the Eucharist doesn’t take away it’s holiness or the fact that it is the Real Presence, it’s still worth protecting from violation. Choosing to die for the sake of purity or virginity is to refuse the violation of them out of love for God and the high spiritual value they have. It is the perfection of Christian virtue which very few obtain this side of heaven.

        This doesn’t fit with the Pope’s actual words, though. He said she died specifically TO KEEP HERSELF PURE. That is what he said – not to keep her purity from being violated (though that too, and things like that are said at other times) but because if she had been raped, she would not have been pure. He also mentions her defending herself from having her childlike purity “destroyed”. It is something that can be taken.

        This is why *any other point*, about heroic virtue or anything else, is a red herring; it’s not relevant, because if we use another definition of virginity and purity would mean that she *did not die to keep herself pure*, and *was not at risk of having her purity destroyed*. But there was real danger there of both of those very things happening.

        I am trying to square the Pope’s words and the constant teachings on Saint Maria Goretti with what we are to understand abour virginity and purity. That is the reason I disagree here.

        There IS one other option here – We can say that because Saint Maria Goretti had the ability to resist her rape, even if it meant her death, if she HAD been raped she would no longer have been a virgin and no longer have been pure.

        This is a possible way of looking at things; I will note, though, that it DOES give quite a lot away, because it means that anybody who was threatened with death if they resisted their rape and didn’t fight back is no longer a virgin and no longer pure – though it does not necessarily mean they sinned.

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      9. Well, if you’re a virgin, you’ve never had sex, forced or otherwise.

        Purity seems to be related to the use of the sexual organs for lawful means. Sex out of wedlock – even through rape – is not lawful. One is not less innocent for being raped, but one is no longer a virgin and no longer pure, at least in the sense the Pope seemed to be using the words.

        Or else – again – to try to reconcile everything we can say that if one can resist rape, even if it means serious injury or death, and one does not, one loses their virginity and purity; but if someone is bound and literally has no ability to escape, one does not.

        In any case, for the Pope’s words to make sense, Saint Maria Goretti’s virginity and purity had to be at risk in some way.

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      10. “Well, if you’re a virgin, you’ve never had sex, forced or otherwise.”

        Just to clarify, in your view, a female virgin is someone who never had a penis in her vagina. You do realize that rape isn’t sex, right?

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      11. “Once again, I’m rejecting your premise, partially to make sense of the Pope’s words”

        It’s not my premise you’re rejecting. It’s the one the Church holds. How can you make sense of the Pope’s words if you’re trying to “make sense” of them by understanding how these things are defined by YOUR personal definition? You can’t reconcile his meaning with yours if you don’t know what he means when he uses the words purity and virginity.

        “but also because this seems obvious to me; if rape isn’t forced sex, what on earth is it?”

        You tell me. Define sex or sexual intercourse.

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      12. No.

        I DID tell you what rape meant. It’s the only definition of rape that makes any sort of sense. I’m not going to start defining other basic definitions until I’ve finally said something you can cherry pick.

        Look, I’ve explained myself over and over. You disagree then, fine. You’re pointing to the Catholic Encyclopedia, I’m pointing to the Pope’s words about a canonized Saint and basic dictionary definitions of virginity.

        Now I’m not going to explain things you can I both damn well know because you want me to jump through hoops for you. Have a good day.

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      13. “I DID tell you what rape meant. It’s the only definition of rape that makes any sort of sense.”

        You’re right. Rape is forced sexual intercourse of penis-in-vagina if you are going to the use the technical medical definition of sexual intercourse. The reason I wanted you to define it is because the Church, when defining virginity or sexual relations (perhaps that’s more definitive than just the word sex when I say “rape isn’t sex.”), goes beyond just what happens to the body. It requires the will. The technical definition that you are using of penis-in-vagina is only one part of the three-fold understanding of virginity as defined by the Church. What you are defining is the bodily integrity of the person which is violated in rape. It is also considered accidental, meaning not essential to virginity. The other two qualifications of virgin are the lack of experience of sexual pleasure through the intent of the will.

        “I’m not going to start defining other basic definitions until I’ve finally said something you can cherry pick.”

        How am I cherry picking in an attempt to communicate in a way that makes sure we’re on the same page as far as knowing what the other one means when they use certain words? This is why communication often breaks down because there’s no point in it if you can’t agree on the meaning of words or don’t understand where the other person is coming from. You said upthread, “I’m not doing this just to do it; I actually really don’t like this conclusion, and would prefer yours. But from what I can see, my conclusion is *the only way the Pope’s words make any sense*. No other interpretation seems to work.”

        “You’re pointing to the Catholic Encyclopedia, I’m pointing to the Pope’s words about a canonized Saint and basic dictionary definitions of virginity.”

        I’m also using the Catholic Dictionary, the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, whose definions the Church accepts as her own. Basic dictionary definitions are never going to make sense of the Pope’s meaning or use of those words. The two can’t be fully reconciled.

        Here are a few paragraphs from Pope Pius XII’s encyclical on consecrated virginity. This is the same Pope who wrote the homily for St. Maria Goretti’s canonization.

        12. Here also it must be added, as the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have clearly taught, that virginity is not a Christian virtue unless we embrace it “for the kingdom of heaven;”[14] that is, unless we take up this way of life precisely to be able to devote ourselves more freely to divine things to attain heaven more surely, and with skillful efforts to lead others more readily to the kingdom of heaven.

        13. Those therefore, who do not marry because of exaggerated self-interest, or because, as Augustine says,[15] they shun the burdens of marriage or because like Pharisees they proudly flaunt their physical integrity, an attitude which has been condemned by the Council of Gangra lest men and women renounce marriage as though it were something despicable instead of because virginity is something beautiful and holy, – none of these can claim for themselves the honor of Christian virginity.[16]

        15. This then is the primary purpose, this the central idea of Christian virginity: to aim only at the divine, to turn thereto the whole mind and soul; to want to please God in everything, to think of Him continually, to consecrate body and soul completely to Him.

        16. …..And the Bishop of Hippo, going further, says, “Virginity is not honored because it is bodily integrity, but because it is something dedicated to God. . . Nor do we extol virgins because they are virgins, but because they are virgins dedicated to God in loving continence.”[19] And the masters of Sacred Theology, St. Thomas Aquinas[20] and St. Bonaventure,[21] supported by the authority of Augustine, teach that virginity does not possess the stability of virtue unless there is a vow to keep it forever intact. And certainly those who obligate themselves by perpetual vow to keep their virginity put into practice in the most perfect way possible what Christ said about perpetual abstinence from marriage; nor can it justly be affirmed that the intention of those who wish to leave open a way of escape from this state of life is better and more perfect.

        “Now I’m not going to explain things you can I both damn well know because you want me to jump through hoops for you. Have a good day.”

        I don’t want you to jump through hoops for me. What would I have to gain by that? I’m taking at face value your own words about wanting to believe the conclusions I’m presenting. If that’s true, then by your own intellectual curiosity you will try to gain a full understanding of how the Church defines these things. I can only help by making “appeals to books” as you defined it but they ARE books that contain the true teachings of the Church. Pope Pius XII’s understanding of these things is based on these ealier writings. It’s not his personal definion either. It’s the definition accepted by the college of bishops under the direction of the Holy Spirit agreeing that what these early Doctors and Fathers of the Church said was true and right. If you want to rely on basic dictionary definitions to hold your premise about what you say is the Pope’s meaning, then you will not be able to find the truth.

        I wonder if you’re a Catholic. Your words seem to indicate that you might not be or your education in the faith has not gone very far. It doesn’t matter either way. It’s just a curiosity to me why you hold the Pope’s words in such high esteem but not the resources the Church gives us to study and know the truth of what she teaches.

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