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Resurrection Motivates Chastity, says Cardinal Stafford

"Maria Goretti Reveals Dignity of Human Body"

FATIMA, Portugal, JULY 19, 2006 (Zenit) - Purity is a virtue directly connected to the dignity of the human body and to the prospect of the resurrection, explained a Vatican official.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford, major penitentiary of the Catholic Church, reflected on the topic of purity and chastity last Wednesday and Thursday, when he presided over the international pilgrimage to Fatima, to celebrate the 89th anniversary of the Virgin's apparition, on July 13, 1917, in that Portuguese city.

"Grow and multiply" was the theme of the pilgrimage, a context in which the cardinal spoke on purity, "the most mysterious of the virtues," which "Christians would never have thought of if they had not looked forward to the resurrection of the body."

"Many who are still influenced by 19th century mechanism believe that the Church's teachings on virtue are hideous and they especially reject her teaching on the virtues of chastity and purity," he said.

"They deride the observance of the sixth commandment as emotionally disturbing, even downright repulsive and against nature."

Founded on baptism

Cardinal Stafford clarified that it is essential to remember Christ's Paschal Mystery and one's baptism, which provide the "foundation and motivation for the practice of the virtue of purity and of all other virtues."

"St. Paul taught exactly this norm when he wrote, 'Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more ... For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from unchastity (1 Thessalonians 4:1-3)," Cardinal Stafford said.

"In the entire New Testament the practice of virtue was based on the appearance of the eschaton, that is, of Jesus' saving work in his death and resurrection," noted the cardinal.

In his homily, the major penitentiary recalled how "deeply" he was affected by the canonization on June 24, 1950, of the young martyr Maria Goretti.

"Present in St. Peter's Square on that occasion were both her mother and her murderer, Alessandro Serenelli," he said. "Her witness to purity and courage became the polar star of my generation."

St. Maria Goretti, whose memorial the Church celebrated on July 6, "understood that purity was intimately connected with the dignity of the human body," he explained.

"She was aware that the Church taught that it was not the soul but the body which will arise, glorified. With the Church she confessed each Sunday: 'I believe in the resurrection of the body,'" he said. "She witnessed to the mystery that the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus are the true laws of nature, of the flesh and of the physical."


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Stafford, Chastity, Resurrection, Goretti, Virtue

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