Answer: When the Vatican says so!
A consecrated virgin is a woman who is a virgin, has never married, and pledges she will remain a virgin to dedicate her life to God. Unlike a nun, she does not live in a community and leads a secular life, providing for her own needs.
The U. S. Association of Consecrated Virgins (USACV) describes itself as:
A voluntary association of consecrated virgins living in the world. The purpose of the USACV is to provide support to its members in the faithful living out of their vocation to consecrated virginity and “…to assist one another in service to the Church as befits their state” (Canon 604, Code of Canon Law).
Catholic Herald reports, July 13, 2018, that the US Association of Consecrated Virgins is “deeply disappointed” at new rules issued by the Vatican that say consecrated virgins need not be virgins.
The Vatican issued the document, Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago (Instruction on the Ordo Virginum), last week after requests from bishops throughout the world for clarity on the role of consecrated virgins amid an upsurge in vocations — at a time when priest and nun vocations have declined.
USACV takes with section 88 of Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago, which states:
Thus to have kept her body in perfect continence or to have practiced the virtue of chastity in an exemplary way, while of great importance with regard to the discernment, are not essential prerequisites in the absence of which admittance to consecration is not possible.
The USACV issued this statement about Section 88:
It is shocking to hear from Mother Church that physical virginity may no longer be considered an essential prerequisite for consecration to a life of virginity. The entire tradition of the Church has firmly upheld that a woman must have received the gift of virginity – that is, both material and formal (physical and spiritual) – in order to receive the consecration of virgins. In the rite of consecration to a life of virginity, a woman is consecrated as “bride of Christ,” so that she might be “an eschatological image of the world to come and the heavenly Bride of Christ.” (from the Introduction to the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity).
The USACV says that despite Section 88:
The prerequisites for consecration as stated in the Introduction to the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity do not change with the issuance of this Instruction.
And the first prerequisite is that the consecrated virgin must be a virgin:
Those Women to Whom the Virginal Consecration May be Imparted: a) In the case of virgins leading lives in the world it is required that they have never celebrated marriage and that they have not publicly or manifestly lived in a state contrary to chastity.
A comment by “Maria” on California Catholic Daily about the Vatican’s elimination of virginity as a requirement to be consecrated virgin, puts it perfectly:
Well if the divorced and remarried can receive Communion, if Protestant spouses of Catholics can receive Communion, if priests and bishops can be active homosexuals, if civilly married gays can be active in church ministry and receive Communion, and if priests can openly promote undermining Catholic doctrine, then… sure… why not relax the standards on consecrated virgins too? They can consecrate a “second virginity” to Jesus. The wheels are coming off.
- The Illegitimate Pope: Election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis was contaminated by lobbying in violation of papal laws
- The Francis Effect: Sharp drop in U.S. church attendance
- Fake-Pope Francis invites satanist Katy Perry to promote Transcendental Meditation at Vatican
- Francis: The pope who refuses to genuflect at the consecration
- Delusional: Pope Francis says he’s on waiting list to be a saint