UPDATE, 7/27/12: Problem solved. Read what I learned about the Church's true teachings on virgin martyrs.
Jill at Feministe discovers St. Maria Goretti via an item I posted, and asserts the Church's motivation in canonizing her was to tell the women of the world, "Better to die than to survive rape."
Granted, Jill's other writings make it clear she is prone to view Church teachings in an unsympathetic light. But, in the case of St. Maria, I believe the opinion she expresses is shared by many reasonable people, including some Catholics. As I have written, that is why I am uncomfortable with the promotion of St. Maria as a role model for teens—because the message of her martyrdom may be so easily misinterpreted. And it doesn't help when well-meaning defenders of her cult infer, as did one of my commenters, that failure to resist a violent rapist is "a mortal sin."
As a Catholic, I believe St. Maria Goretti is a saint—end of story. But, as an apologist, I have too much on my plate with grad school to do the research and contemplation I would need in order to go to the mat for her as a patron saint of purity. (That she is a model of forgiveness is unquestionable and a far easier point to defend.) So, I hope to learn from what you have to say about why the Church and, by extension, Catholic organizations, specifically cite her as a model of chastity—one whose witness, like that of all the saints, is intended to teach us how to grow in holiness. If you would like to join the discussion, leave a comment at Feministe or my previous blog entry.
Comments closed; leave a comment at the above-linked entries.