Posts about women wearing head coverings in church never get any attention… NOT. Nice double negative, no?
I am reminded of the story of the guy during a conference on philology and philosophy who, having delivered a dopey and mind-numbing talk filled with errors, eventually quipped that, while in English a double-negative pointed to an affirmation, a double-positive did not point to a negation. At which point a thoroughly fed-up fellow panelists, griped “Yah, yah.”
The new instruction Universae Ecclesiae has this important paragraph.
28 – Praeterea, cum sane de lege speciali agitur, quoad materiam propriam, Litterae Apostolicae Summorum Pontificum derogant omnibus legibus liturgicis, sacrorum rituum propriis, exinde ab anno 1962 promulgatis, et cum rubricis librorum liturgicorum anni 1962 non congruentibus. … Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.
Derogate means that things are partially replaced, set aside. So, insofar as the use of the 1962 books is concerned, if there is something that came into law after 1962, and that thing or practice conflicts with what is in the 1962 books, then those post-1962 things don’t apply to the use of the 1962 books.
Communion in the hand is after 1962, as are Extraordinary Ministers of Communion, altar girls….
As I read this, and I checked this with canonists, since the employment of females substituting for Instituted Acolytes came with an interpretation of the 1983 Code, you cannot have altar girls for the Extraordinary Form which was, in 1962, carried out by all male ministers and servers. This would probably apply to other issues, such as the substitution of music, the use of proper vestments and choir dress, who gives which blessings, etc.
However, I don’t believe that this applies to the use of head-coverings in church by women. Under the previous Code of Canon Law of 1917, women were obliged to cover their heads with a hat or veil during Mass. The newer Code of 1983 does not have that obligation.
But, as best I can make it out, this obligation for women in the congregation to wear a head-covering was not in any liturgical book in 1962. I haven’t checked, but there probably was one for the consecration of an abbess or for vows of religious sisters. The rite of consecration of virgins was introduced in 1970, though I am vaguely aware that it had barely survived even before for Benedictine nuns. But that is neither here nor there. As far as I know there was no mentioned of women in the congregation wearing head coverings in the liturgical books. And the Instruction UE deals with liturgical books.
So, while UE 28 makes it clear that females are not to serve at the altar when the older books are used, it does not touch on the issue of head-coverings for women in the congregation.
That said, Card. Burke has argued along the lines of the spirit of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. Surely he is right. While there is no strict obligation according to the law, the whole ethos of the older use of the Roman Rite creates a soft obligation, a strong presumption that those who attend will of their own free will do their best to conform themselves to what the older use is offering. That would include a willingness on the part of women to use a head-covering in church.