Chastity Gaining Respect, Says Papal Household Preacher

A Virtue That Denotes Abundance of Love

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 13, 2002 ( The world is beginning to rediscover the value of chastity, the Papal Household preacher said during an Advent meditation for the Pope and Roman Curia.

«The word virginity is appearing again in the media, no longer in an ironic way as in the past.» Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said in his meditation today. «It is young people who have forced their elders to rethink the matter, thus becoming themselves the educators of the adults.»

During the second meditation of Advent, held in the Pope’s private Redemptoris Mater Chapel, the Capuchin friar illustrated his preaching with a cover of Newsweek magazine on «The New Virginity.»

Newsweek published stories of young people who, for different reasons, declared their decision to remain virgins until marriage. The Italian press, the preacher said, attached much importance to the article, publishing articles with headlines such as «Boys Discover the Pleasure of Virginity» and «Sexual Counterrevolution in U.S.»

«Certainly, we must not have too many illusions,» Father Cantalamessa said. The previous day, a key newspaper published a lengthy report entitled «Sex: Internet Offers 167 Million Occasions. A Really Global Obsession.»

However, Father Cantalamessa commented: «At least there are signs of a certain change of tendency, of a certain saturation.»

«At a time like ours,» he continued, «in which abuse in the field of sexuality is threatening the very sources of life and in which nature sends us sinister warning signs, it is a duty and a joy for believers to rediscover the radical alternative of the Gospel: chastity.»

«This alternative does not disqualify or blame sex, as opposed to what the secular press says,» the Capuchin observed. «On the contrary, it emphasizes its human, free, and rational character, impeding its degenerating into pure instinct and animality.»

«As the poet Rabindranath Tagore said, chastity is a richness that proceeds from the abundance of love and not from a lack of love, and this happens both in the consecrated life as in marriage,» Father Cantalamessa concluded.

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