The CDF on a burning issue of our day … wait for it….

… the biblical obligation of head coverings for women in church, … because we haven’t had enough of that yet.

The Canonical Defender, Dr. Peters, has added a note to his esteemed commentary on head coverings. Hat tip – (HA!  Get it?) also the Jimmy Akins.

From Peter’s great blog In the Light of the Law.

From Jimmy Akin’s combox, a nice rephrasing of the obvious . . . Concerning St. Paul’s statement to the Corinthians, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has stated that this was a discipline based on customs of the time, not a permanent moral obligation: “But it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor 11: 2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value.” CDF, decl. Inter Insigniores (15 oct. 1976) n. 4.

Let the games BEGIN!

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  1. moon1234 says:

    Hmm. 1976. That would also mean that pretty much any other “Traditional” custom of the time (What time was that again? year 100 or year 1950?) is outmoded and no longer has any importance.

    This sure seems to me to be a modernist interpretation of what is “outmoded” or old and what should be “retained”.

    Isn’t it funny that those who are for a return to the Mass “as it was in the begining” want to “pick and choose” what they take from that time period. St. Paul was not a person who spoke ONLY to the people of his time. His words provide wisdom to the modern age as well. Only those who have a problem with what St. Paul says would want to jetison the customs he recommends.

    So I guess the Angels who attend at Mass are not modern and no longer really care WHAT you wear?

  2. Choirmaster says:

    So… are there any “ordinances of normative value” to be found concerning the garb of the faithful while assisting at Mass?

    What about men uncovering their heads? What about bare shoulders, bellies, chests, or legs? How about collars on shirts, or jeans, or shorts?

    This looks to me like the CDF is saying that such an ordinance is relative to the cultural norms of the time, which seems to me to be counter-intuitive, if not, indeed, antithetical to “normative” exegetical conventions. Should we then assume that the male-only priesthood was established because of our Lord’s contemporary cultural mores?

    I would have preferred that the CDF responded in such a way that did not imply a gross inculturation. Example:

    Negative. Such an ordinance is not currently in force for the Latin Church.

    Minor importance? Maybe; to me at least, but it seems as if we are not all in agreement about this issue’s magnitude of importance. I would, however, like to see a synopsis of the ordinances governing the dress code while in Church! Maybe I can skip the tie and instead wear a terry-cloth house-robe. That would be terribly comfortable, and–in all honesty–not nearly an occasion for sin for anyone, unless visceral revulsion is sinful.

    In all seriousness, though, I think that the pull-over hoodie is normative in my culture, and should be an acceptable garment for laymen like me while assisting at Mass (following the logic supplied by the CDF). It’s not an immodest garment. And who wears a tie these days, anyway?

  3. rfox2 says:

    the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has stated that this was a discipline based on customs of the time, not a permanent moral obligation

    This is because people prior to the enlightened 1960s were stoooooopid. Neither the doctors of the Church, nor the Curia, nor the entire Magiterium prior to the new age following Vatican 2 knew how to interpret Scripture properly. Now that we’ve incorporated higher critical methods into our Biblical interpretation, we’re not so ignorant and backwards like they were prior to 1962. Thank goodness the CDF has helped us advance so far beyond where we were at a mere 50 years ago!

  4. Paul, was preaching to the Greeks, and their ornate hairstyles could be very distracting. ( He also writes like he, himself, might have had a hair fetish. – You can’t say he surely didn’t. ) But I digress, I read St. Paul as saying more that women should not distract fellow parishioners from the Liturgy, by the way they dress.

    Covering one’s hair won’t keep men from being distracted, considering the fact that now adays young women go to church with bare midriffs. Mantilla, or longer shirts, what to choose what to choose.

  5. inara says:

    I have yet to have anyone (canonist or otherwise) explain to me how veiling does not come under these provisions:
    The 1983 code (Canon 26) states that a custom that has been legitimately practiced for at least 30 years “obtains the force of law” and an immemorial custom (practiced over 100 years) *prevails against canonical law*…in other words, even if there were a written canon in the new code *prohibiting* head coverings, the immemorial custom would have greater weight & therefore, overrule/nullify that written law. An immemorial custom is impervious to change & therefore, binding for all time. St. Paul’s admonition for women’s heads to be covered has been in practice for almost 2000 years, so there can be no doubt it qualifies under this rule.

    In addition, since Paul places this issue in the context of the liturgy, Canon 2 also applies:
    “For the most part the Code does not define the rites which must
    be observed in celebrating liturgical actions. Therefore,
    liturgical laws in force until now retain their force unless one of
    them is contrary to the canons of the Code.”

    Also,1983 Code, Canon 5, seems to mandate headcoverings even if one were to argue they aren’t considered part of the liturgy:
    “Universal or particular customs beyond the law (praeter ius) which are in force until now are preserved.”

  6. I should mention that I preferr to wear a mantilla even at a OF mass

  7. cdruiz says:

    Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him,
    whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Cor. 11:13-16, NAB)

  8. inara says:

    and then there’s that obviously definitive, authoritative, unambiguous term “probably”…

    head coverings for women was *not* the issue the CDF was addressing at all. In Inter Insigniores they were speaking out against women being ordained to the priesthood & seem to add this reference to bolster their argument that Paul was not a misogynist or prejudiced against women.
    It is clear they are tentative in including it by the use of the word “probably”…to me, this shows they really had not put much, if any, time into researching this particular topic (since it was not the focus of the Declaration) & therefore, were not making a binding statement in this regard.

    This is further supported by the beginning of the same paragraph, where it says “Another objection [to ordaining women as priests] is based upon the transitory character that one *claims to see* today in some of the prescriptions of Saint Paul concerning women”…if they were admitting these ordinances were transitory, would they not have said “sees”? Instead, they are arguing that Paul’s teachings here are, in fact, applicable now.

  9. moon1234 says:

    Saint Pius X said it best in his oath AGAINST modernism (i.e. conforming to the modern mores and whims of the people and places)

    Fourthly, I sincerely accept the doctrine of the faith handed on to us by the Apostles through the orthodox Fathers, always with the same meaning and interpretation; and therefore I flatly reject the heretical invention of the evolution of dogmas, to the effect that these would change their meaning from that previously held by the Church. I equally condemn every error whereby the divine deposit, handed over to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept by her, would be replaced by a philosophical invention or a creation of human consciousness, slowly formed by the effort of men and to be henceforward perfected by an indefinite progress.
    I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that the more learned Christian has a two-fold personality, one of the believer and the other of the historian, as if it would be lawful for the historian to uphold views which are in contradiction with the faith of the believer, or to lay down propositions from which it would follow that the dogmas are false or doubtful, as long as these dogmas were not directly denied.

    I likewise reprove the method of judging and interpreting Holy Scripture which consists in ignoring the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith and the rulings of the Apostolic See, following the opinions of rationalists, and not only unlawfully but recklessly upholding the critique of the text as the only and supreme rule.

  10. PAT says:

    On a related note, it was mentioned during the royal wedding this morning that a document was issued to those invited to attend the ceremony in Westminster Abbey: some 22 pages of etiquette to be observed. Included was the requirement that ladies would wear hats. Granted, some of the hats were beyond absurd. Never the less, do we see there just a smattering of respect for custom and tradition?

    As I recall, the Catholic requirement was for the covering of the crown of the head, which could be accomplished with a veil, a mantilla, a chapel cap, a pillbox hat, a scarf, or a Kleenex tissue, if we had nothing else. It was a simple outward sign of respect for our Lord God in the Sacrament, and of humility in His Presence. It is such a shame that we have lost that connection to an ancient and long-standing tradition and grace; but it seems to have gone the way of belief in the Real Presence in the first place.

  11. Doesn’t any meaningful discussion about returning to the practice of women wearing head coverings, aka modesty veils, while assisting at Mass seem premature or even absurd and out of context at this time– as the concept of modesty in dress seems to be obsolete, even unnatural, to the current cultural “goddess” mindset, the apparent sequel to the “women’s liberation movement”?

    Modest covering of the body as an essential expression of our God-given human dignity must first be reclaimed, taught and embraced.

  12. moon1234 says:

    In many places, during the summer, I wonder why some people bother putting on what they do. Last year at the pool most of the young ladies might as well have been naked. The amount of material they were wearing would barely make a single sock.

    No one seemed to care either, except the young male gawkers. I think this is EXACTLY the time for people to see customs. It is an outward reminder that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

    It is sad that the Amish are more recognizable today on Sunday than Catholics. I haven’t met any Amish who were dressed immodestly EVER. No one seems to mind either. I don’t understand why so many Catholics get hung up on this if for no other reason than modern liberation movement.

  13. APX says:

    On a related note, it was mentioned during the royal wedding this morning that a document was issued […] Included was the requirement that ladies would wear hats. Granted, some of the hats were beyond absurd

    I’m watching the royal wedding right now and after seeing the hats, I was baffled why Fr Z would want the return of women wearing hats.

  14. It amazes me when Cdl Burke states that veiling is not mandatory, people whip out Corinthians. What are we, Protestants?!

  15. Choirmaster says:

    @briaangelique: Ha! It seems to me that we become whatever we must be to win an argument! One time, right here on this blog, I [almost] became a moral-relativist because it advanced my position. Shameful!

  16. moon1234 says:

    “It amazes me when Cdl Burke states that veiling is not mandatory”

    He then goes on to say that is SHOULD be done at the EF because it is EXPECTED, but it is not sinful. So if a cardinal tells you that you SHOULD do something does that mean you ignore him because it is not mandatory or rise to the level of a sin?

    We are to dress modestly as well. How many people listen to that command? Just because something is not CANON LAW does not mean that it is history and no longer relevent. Well the law does not say I can’t snowblow my driveway into the neighbors, so that means I can!!!!!

    That is essentially what people do in modern times. Unless there is a SPECIFIC prohibition in LAW it must be legal now. If people wonder what the attraction of the EF Mass is, a small part is that the people who come are USALLY consistent in dressing respectfully for the Lord and honor the traditions that have been passed down through the ages.

  17. dans0622 says:

    I attempted to address those issues regarding custom in a previous post on this topic. I must not have done a good job of it. Could you tell me why my explanation is lacking?

    Anyway, I must admit that I do not see a great deal of importance in this off-hand remark of the CDF in Inter insigniores. When it was made, I don’t think anyone took it as an official relaxation of the canonical requirement (which was still in force at the time) regarding the (un)covering of heads while in a church. I consider it to be an interesting aside in the whole discussion but not a definitive answer.

  18. Papabile says:

    I suppose that binds us just as much as the famous 1978 dubium, no?

    51. Query: In Mass with a congregation celebrated more solemnly, different ways of incensation are being used: one plain and simple; the other, the same as the rite for incensation prescribed in the former Roman Missal. Which usage should be followed?

    Reply: It must never be forgotten that the Missal of Pope Paul VI has, since 1970, supplanted the one called improperly “the Missal of St. Pius V,” and completely so, in both texts and rubrics. When the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI say nothing or say little on particulars in some places, it is not to be inferred that the former rite should be observed. Therefore, the multiple and complex gestures for incensation as prescribed in the former Missal (see “Missale Romanum,” Vatican Polyglot Press, 1962: “Ritus servandus” VIII and “Ordo incensandi” pp. LXXXLXXXIII) are not to be resumed. In incensation the celebrant (GIRM nos. 51 and 105) proceeds as follows: a. toward the gifts: he incenses with three swings, as the deacon does toward the Book of the Gospels; b. toward the cross: he incenses with three swings when he comes in front of it; c. toward the altar: he incenses continuously from the side as he passes around the altar, making no distinction between the altar table and the base: Not 14 (1978) 301-302, no. 2.

  19. aladextra says:

    There seems to be confusion that the purpose of the veil is modesty. The purpose is humility. The woman veils her head for the same reason a man removes his hat. This can be easily seen from the epistle already quoted.

  20. moon1234 says:

    When the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI say nothing or say little on particulars in some places, it is not to be inferred that the former rite should be observed.

    This is interesting. I wonder how either form of the Roman Rite could enhance the other, as Pope Benedict Hoped, in any way other than to better follow the rubrics for that form? That, to me, would then mean that innovations such as Altar Girls, Communion in the hand, etc. would ALL be disallowed in the EF. Since the new rubrics could NOT be used in the old. This would seem to then be consistent with private replies from the Vatican about communion in the hand and the EF.

    This is off topic, but if that is what 51. Query response is essentially saying, then I think it would take direct action by a vatican comisision or the Pope himself to change anything in the 1962 missal or the precepts as they were enforced in 1962 would it not?

  21. THREEHEARTS says:

    Twenty centuries on and we still proceed, holding our opinions as dear and sacred. St Paul fought, as did the popes following his time, a nose to nose confrontation with the mystery religions from around that region, especially with the Phrygian sect and their ecstatic utterances, also included among these Mystery Religions was a small sect of nature worshipers.These women wore flowers, grass and I believe even snake skins in their hair. The reemergence of these heresies in today’s Church and the accommodation given them by prelates is very similar to the acceptance in today’s church of the Albigensians in the early church and the prosecution that followed Anthanasius who was censured for his dismissal of their beliefs. St Paul wanted them to hide the signs of their former worship. When will we start to see the reasons for the Letter to Corinth? The best read is Msgr Ronald Knox in his book called Enthusiasm. In it he tells us why the Letter was needed, and explained the descending orders of Charismas. In fact I personally have often wondered why he never included Virtues and other needed gifts in his list. The lower gifts certainly did not carry sanctifying grace which he very carefully tells us in His Letter demanding the fighting stop and Charity must rule. So if you do not worship Nature, which unfortunately seems to be returning in the Church, do what you like with your hair but always worship according to the Virtue of Religion, which the Church explains cannot exist without the first great Commandment of Charity, nor can it be vice versa.

  22. ContraMundum says:

    How about guys wearing baseball caps during Mass? I attended a Mass at the local Newman Club where one of the “extraordinary Eucharistic ministers” (at least 2 were of course needed, since 30 people were present) was a young man wearing a baseball cap backwards. Any thoughts about whether that was a violation of a disciplinary practice of minor importance, probably inspired by the customs of an earlier period, and no longer having a normative value?

  23. I’m actually not really for or against it, in theory. However, the practice of wearing a head covering in Mass does give me pause for concern. My husband, who happens to be a canon lawyer and teaches liturgy, always says that if he were a woman, he would wear one. (He’s so cute.) I am not opposed to wearing one in a situation in which it is more commonly seen, such as at Mass in the Extraordinary Form. But I usually attend the OF, so in the interest of not drawing attention to myself, I don’t wear anything out of the ordinary. I don’t think Mass ought to be the occasion for me to make a statement about my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11 in relation to the tradition of the Church and its non-mention in the 1983 code, and if I showed up to Mass in our non-veil wearing Church, I’d be doing just that.

    I honestly don’t know why people get so pushy about this topic. My husband and I happen to disagree about it, but he doesn’t pull an “Ephesians 5” on me over it!

  24. Margaret says:

    As a non-head-cover-er, I’ve been intrigued at the number of different “explanations” people have cited in assorted comboxes recently for why women should cover– modesty. No, humility. No, submission. No, sacredness. No, to avoid distracting men. No, because of the angels. Hmmm…

    If someone with spiritual authority over me (i.e. the Pope, my local bishop or my spiritual director) ever specifically requested that women again cover, I would do so. But I can’t ever see myself going with the lacy mantilla, or something similarly see-through. Ever. Shouldn’t a head covering, you know, actually cover? Like a Jewish tichel or something?

  25. ContraMundum says:

    Again, I find it interesting that NO ONE questions 1 Corinthians 11:4. Let’s not pretend that the red requiring the priest (or bishop or pope) to uncover has any other source. Verse 4 is part of our unchangeable eternal patrimony; not to be confused at all with verse 5, which was never of much importance and applied only to an obsolete culture.

  26. Dear Aladextra,
    There is actually no confusion among us on this issue. It is about both humility and modesty. A very good article by the late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. posted online by, entitled “Modesty is Always in Style,” explains that “modesty spans every bodily expression of our internal possession of humility. A modest person is a humble person. We might almost say that modesty is the manifestation of internal humility.”

    Fr. Hardon also makes a striking claim, which should be of great interest to us all: that Christian Modesty is the Precondition for Restoring Christianity! The entire article can be read at:

  27. APX says:

    As a non-head-cover-er, I’ve been intrigued at the number of different “explanations” people have cited in assorted comboxes recently for why women should cover– modesty. No, humility. No, submission. No, sacredness. No, to avoid distracting men. No, because of the angels. Hmmm…

    If someone with spiritual authority over me (i.e. the Pope, my local bishop or my spiritual director) ever specifically requested that women again cover, I would do so.

    Exactly. Catholics can’t even agree on why they’re worn. It’s not required, therefore those of us who choose not to cover our heads are not sinning.

  28. Joe in Canada says:

    I agree with Inara. “Probably”? In other words, ‘we don’t really believe this anymore, so it is probably a cultural norm’. Is “probably” enough to put aside the practice of the apostles, even if it is not a legal requirement?

  29. Oneros says:

    Great! Now we can finally discard other alleged apostolic traditions, like No Married Bishops (even though Paul himself clearly mentions those…) and let those ordinariate guys be bishops and have their wives??

    It may not be a dogmatic issue of absolute morality, but I’d tend to think traditions stretching back to the apostles themselves should be preserved at all costs.

  30. ContraMundum says:

    Let’s be clear: There is no fundamental reason why the only valid matter for the Eucharist is unleavened wheat bread. Yet it is; leaved wheat bread is not merely illicit, it is invalid. Eastern Catholics, on the other hand, require leavened bread for the Sacrifice.

    There is something to be said for obedience even when we don’t know all the reasons.

    That’s what the Jewish dietary laws were about. Attempts to reduce the kosher laws to some sort of health concern are supremely unconvincing, and they certainly wouldn’t justify the extreme sacrifices that were recorded in the Maccabees and that we still honor today.

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    Are we still beating this old dead horse?

    Can’t people tell the difference between the deposit of faith and a hat? I’m not sure whether to be amused or appalled.

    But after being Catholic for 26 years (yes, cuss me out now; I’m a convert), I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve seen far stranger things…and often. Being Catholic has been quite an experience. It’s different than I thought it might be… say the least.

  32. I think part of the problem is that the Corinthians passage is itself not especially easy to understand (what do angels have to do with anything? what does I Cor 11:16 mean?) I’m happy to accept the CDF’s ruling here, because I really do think the symbolic meaning of a veil (as it would have been understood then) has been near-entirely lost. That may itself be a bad thing — I’d be very open to that proposition — but there really is a genuine difference re modesty/not calling attention to oneself between wearing a veil to Mass when everybody else is, and wearing a veil to Mass when nobody else is. So keeping it as a (non-binding) expectation for the EF, but not the OF, strikes me as a reasonable compromise… an EF community is more likely to find it meaningful.

    @moon1234: “modernism” in St Pius X’s terms doesn’t have much to do with inculturation or “onforming to the modern mores and whims of the people and places”… it refers primarily to a historicist, progressive understanding of doctrine/dogma. In the passage you quote, he is talking about “the divine deposit”, i.e. the Deposit of Faith, and attacking ideas that turn the Faith into a human creation. It has nothing to do with dress in church or even the proper relation of the Christian to the culture.

    (I really think “modernism” was a poor choice of term, since it has several other very different meanings…)

  33. Will D. says:

    Any woman that doesn’t veil at Mass is obviously a mental pervert, a communist, and what’s more, a Protestant.

  34. Agnes says:

    So! My Twins baseball cap should be OK then! Glad we got all this settled.

  35. David Collins says:

    Will D. is being ironic, right? Surely he doesn’t think there is something wrong with being a perverted, communistic, Protestant.

  36. shin says:

    “But of a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled.” (1 Corinthians 11:6)

    ‘Thus, in the beginning he simply requires that the head be not bare: but as he proceeds he intimates both the continuance of the rule, saying, “for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven,” and the keeping of it with all care and diligence. For he said not merely covered, but “covered over,” meaning that she be carefully wrapped up on every side. And by reducing it to an absurdity, he appeals to their shame, saying by way of severe reprimand, “but if she be not covered, let her also be shorn.” As if he had said, “If thou cast away the covering appointed by the law of God, cast away likewise that appointed by nature.”

    But if any say, “Nay, how can this be a shame to a woman, if she mount up to the glory of the man?” we might make this answer; “She does not mount up, but rather falls from her own proper honor.” Since not to abide within our own limits and the laws ordained of God, but to go beyond, is not an addition but a dimunition. For as he that desireth other men’s goods and seizeth what is not his own, hath not gained any thing more, but is diminished, having lost even that which he had, (which kind of thing also happened in paradise:) so likewise the woman acquireth not the man’s dignity, but loseth even the woman’s decency which she had. And not from hence only is her shame and reproach, but also on account of her covetousness.”

    Having taken then what was confessedly shameful, and having said, but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven,” he states what follows his own conclusion, saying, “let her be covered.” And he said not, “let her have long hair,” but, “let her be covered,” ordaining both these to be one, and establishing them both ways, from what was customary from their contraries: in that he both affirms the covering and the hair to be one, and also that she again who is shaven is the same with her whose head is bare. “For it is one and the same thing,” saith he, “as if she were shaven.” But if any say, “And how is it one if this woman have the covering of nature, but the other who is shaven have not even this?” we answer, that as far as her will goes, she threw that off likewise by having the head bare. An it be not bare of tresses, that is nature’s doing, not her own. So that as she who is shaven hath her head bare, so this woman in like manner. For this cause He left it to nature to provide her with a covering, that even of it she might learn this lesson and veil herself.’

    St. John Chrysostom, Father and Doctor of the Church

  37. Charlotte Allen says:

    Men’s hats vs. women’s hats: It’s a general rule of etiquette that gentlemen don’t wear hats indoors (unless the hat is necessary for work, like a chef’s toque). That means churches, but also restaurants, offices, friends’ homes, etc. That rule is often violated, but it remains in effect, and men who wear baseball caps indoors always look disrespectful. Until a few decades ago there was a converse rule of etiquette: a lady never left her home without her hat, which she wore at all times, including in church. Only when inside her own home did a lady go hatless; her female visitors kept their hats on. Both rules probably bore some relation to Paul’s directive in Corinthians, which in turn probably bore some relation to ancient custom. Married Roman women (which essentially meant all women over the age of twelve or so) wore veils outside their homes. Just as it was considered disrespectful for a man to cover his head in church, it was considered disrespectful for a woman to flaunt her uncovered hair in church. The problem is that while the rule for men remains in force to this day despite frequent violations, the rule for women gradually became relaxed into nonexistence. Women did not have to wear hats with evening gowns, for example, nor when at school or work. Hats became very small. By the early 1960s a headband was an acceptable head-“covering” for Sunday Mass in a Catholic church. Mantillas, by the way, were never worn in church by Catholic women (except in Spain) until the 1960s, when beehive hairstyles that made it impossible to wear a hat came into fashion and most women were going hatless everywhere else. I think that Jackie Kennedy introduced the mantilla for Mass in Palm Beach. Finally, at the very end of the ’60s, most Catholic women simply stopped wearing hats to church, and Paul’s directive in Corinthians became a dead letter. That had partly to do with the “winds of change” mood of rebellion against all traditional church practices during that time, but it had also to do with the fact that you couldn’t even buy a hat anymore and that new women’s styles, such as pantsuits, look silly with hats. In short, it no longer looks disrespectful for a woman to go bareheaded in church (just as it no longer looks disrespectful for a woman not to wear stockings, once de rigeur everwhere but at the beach). I myself mourn the passing of the old rule. I love hats, and I think Paul was right, but I would feel foolish wearing a hat to Mass at my parish church, where the dress standard is so wretchedly informal that I look overdressed in my current Sunday Mass uniform of a skirt, blouse, and high heels. If I wore a mantilla, I’d feel unnatural and I’d be making a “statement” that I don’t care to make. All of this is too bad, and I’d love to see a return of the old norm. I’d love to see people dress up for church, period. I don’t think women should wear pants to Mass on Sunday, for example, and in an ideal world men would wear suits and ties. Perhaps the royal wedding, with its gorgeous display of female headwear (along with Princess Kate’s fondness for fascinators), will have an effect on what is considered sartorially appropriate for church and elsewhere. And should I become a rich old lady, perhaps I’ll go over the top and outfit myself like the late Queen Mum (who never went hatless). But until then I can see why the Catholic Church doesn’t push the hat issue.

  38. VivaLaMezzo says:

    There are many reasons to veil for those of us who have chosen to do so. Tradition and scripture do support the practice. However, I don’t judge those who don’t cover and I don’t care if the person who does cover prefers hats or veils. If you don’t pray the rosary, I might try to convince you that it is a worthy devotion, but you wouldn’t be required to do that either. Veiling isn’t required any more that any other personal or private devotion. However, many of us find veiling to be a spiritually fruitful practice.

  39. inara says:

    Dan, you did respond thoughtfully on a previous thread & I spent much time considering your points. I think our disagreement lies in what constitutes a valid “custom”~ you had said:
    “Regarding custom: if that is the basis of the requirement, the wider “custom” today is to not cover the head. I find it highly improbable that women covered their heads (or stopped doing it) with the intention of introducing a law (as stipulated by canon law, c. 25). So, the argument from custom is dubious.”

    My response would be that I *do* think that Paul introduced this as a custom with the force of law, with clear intention of it remaining so (hence his admonition not “to be contentious” about it because this is the *only* acceptable option within the churches of God), and that it was received as such by the church in Corinth, as well as the other communities…so to me, it meets the requirements of Canon 25.

    I would also say that, though not veiling has become the norm in Western society, there are still quite a few countries where the custom has continued uninterrupted (Japan, parts of Africa & Eastern Europe), so it has not been a universal change. Also, this change took place less than 50 years ago, while the original universal practice was in place centuries longer, so seems to meet the “immemorial” requirements, which would then make it impervious to change (whether written or in typical practice).

    We do seem to agree, though, that the CDF’s aside on this topic was clearly “off hand” & not to be taken as binding. Unfortunately, many *have* put it forth as a definitive statement, both here & in other conspicuous places (such as the footnotes of my new Ignatius Study Bible).

  40. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I am enjoying the comments here, especially those that quote the canons and cite customs and tradition. I learn so much from commenters!

    Some discussions on this topic are tiresome – it is as if the Church has to decree every facet of a practice before we believe it. There used to be a lot more common sense applied to every day practices and customs in the Church. But today, the only ones who remember how it was, are in their 90s and the rest of us remain a lost generation to just regular everyday customs that were once taken for granted. We are piecing together things without all the information. So we get all twisted up trying to explain norms and common sense because we no longer enjoy the context of all that the Church used to display.

    I suggest that headcoverings for women at Mass are still law. According to a much older woman-friend, this was most necessary when expecting to receive Holy Communion, and not expected when visiting the church for, say, a novena. There was also the understood rule that no woman should attend Mass without covered arms [now we are worried about short or tight clothes, and bare midriffs, where this wasn’t even thinkable years ago]. No Canon that I know of revoked women’s headcoverings – these details were simply not mentioned in later Canons.
    Also, women generally didn’t go out into public without a head covering, from the lowest in society to the most elegant. I mean really, in that context, would men have to be reminded to wear pants to Mass, or any of the se other practices that are are now seen as options to be abused?

  41. br.david says:

    This seems to be a rather minor thing to fuss about. There are, assuredly, more important and pressing matters which demand our attention. I prefer that women cover their heads in Church, particularly since that was a custom in many countries. Lest we forget, however, in many countries, though, the practice of women wearing veils had either fallen into disuse long before the Second Vatican Council, or never really emerged as a custom.

  42. dcs says:


    Yet it is; leaved wheat bread is not merely illicit, it is invalid.

    I think you are mistaken about that. Leavened bread is valid but illicit (in the Roman Rite — it is valid and licit in those Rites that traditionally use leavened bread).

    I suspect that bread made with leavening other than yeast would probably be invalid (since such “breads” are actually quickbreads or cakes). But I could not say for certain.

  43. Maltese says:

    Yeah, like the commentator above said, “1976” says it all! Well, I can say my Porsche 914 (the “poor-man’s Porsche”) was one of the only good things generated in the 70’s, most else I wish I could burn from my mind, though I was born in 72! I thank the Lord I can’t remember much of the dreadful decade of my birth!

    Having said that, chapel veils are one of the most elegant, feminine, traditions of the Church! Who wants to see women with cropped-hair, manly voices, and trousers parading the modern mixed-gender mentality so common in our modern world?

    Mantillas, rather than hindering a woman’s feminity and beauty, can actually accentuate it!

  44. justamouse says:

    “Let the games BEGIN!”

    Sheesh, you weren’t kiddin’.

  45. James Joseph says:

    I just want to know if me and my buddy Joe can wear mantillas.

  46. EWTN Rocks says:

    James Joseph: Thanks for the laugh – I needed that!

  47. catholicmidwest says:

    Go for it.

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