OTTAWA, Ontario, January 27, 2011 ( – Youth are called to embrace the challenge of chastity by dedicating themselves to prayer, surrounding themselves with supportive friends, dressing modestly, and choosing entertainment wisely, say the Canadian bishops in a new pastoral letter to young people released Tuesday.


The letter can be downloaded freely here.

“Chastity is a very real challenge, particularly for young people in our country today. We want to assure those young people who are struggling to live a life of chastity that their bishops stand prayerfully with them and are there to support and encourage them,” said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., of Vancouver, the chairman of the Commission for Doctrine.

“I am certain that young people striving to be faithful to the Gospel are not afraid of a challenging and authentic love. It is the only kind that ultimately gives true joy!” he added.

The pastoral letter’s launch was accompanied by a video production from Salt + Light Television, available on Youtube.

The colorful and photograph-laden booklet emphasizes that chastity “is much more than simply the absence of sexual relations,” calling for “purity of mind as well as body.”  Without a pure heart and mind, the bishops explain, “we will remain slaves of our own passions and weak in spirit. … If we cannot say ‘no,’ then our ‘yes’ will mean nothing.”

They acknowledge that chastity is a great challenge in our “sex-saturated” culture that abounds in sexual imagery, but call on the youth to “resist temptations” by “develop[ing] strategies that will help us live in holiness and freedom.”

The bishops target pornography in particular, saying it “denigrates authentic sexual expression and encourages masturbation, sexual intimacy outside of marriage and the separation of the life-giving and love-giving meaning of sexual relations.”

For single people chastity entails abstinence, they note.  Those with same-sex attractions “are also called to chastity,” they add, stating that homosexuals “too can grow in Christian holiness through a life of self-control, prayer, and the reception of the Sacraments.”

“Despite what the media and Hollywood suggest, the value of sexual intercourse does not lie in recreation, or physical gratification,” they write.  “Any physical pleasure should lead toward the ultimate expression of love between husband and wife, the total self-giving of one person to another.”

They also point out that the sexual act must be “unitive and procreative,” and that “some kinds of sexual activity are not chaste.”

The importance of prayer in the pursuit of chastity is particularly emphasized, including participation in the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist.  “Uniting ourselves to Christ in an ongoing relationship of prayer is the only way to succeed,” they state.  “This includes anything from the simple yet profound “Help me, Jesus” to more formal prayers such as the Rosary, or asking Mary, our Mother, and the Saints and Blesseds to help us by their intercession.”

While chastity demands “constant discipline” and can be difficult or painful, it leads to “sexual maturity and brings inner peace,” they write.

The booklet includes four spotlights on saints and blesseds who offer “striking examples of purity, chastity, charity and joy, true temples in whom the Holy Spirit dwelt.”  These are St. Augustine, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

The letter can be downloaded freely from the CCCB website.  Printed copies can be ordered from the CCCB Publications service at