I REFER TO the article “Church must decide on decorum at Mass” (CN, May 9, 2010). The church dress code is not confined to Sunday Mass, but whenever we are in church. This has always been emphasised by the Church, priests in their homilies, Catholic News articles, and parish bulletins.
For example, the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish bulletin (Jun 8, 2008) stated the following:
• Put on proper attire when you come for Mass or visit Our Lord in the Adoration Room.
• “The Church, the House of God, is the privileged place for adoration of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.” [CCC 2691]
• “Let us avoid the slightest danger of offending God in this area or of being an occasion of temptation for our neighbour .... May the fashions of the world not be the model of our attire, but rather the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints.” [The words of Our Lady to Blessed Jacinta Marta of Fatima].
• Dress code may help to preserve decency, reveal formality, safeguard purity, and show the importance of the Holy Sacrifice.
• Men are to ensure that they put on clean and neat attire. No shorts and slippers or dirty shoes.
• Women are to avoid shorts, mini-skirts, low necklines and also low waist pants/jeans.
Most young Catholics still do not observe this Church teaching. The Church can only do so much; parents and guardians need to ensure that they and their children are decently dressed in accordance with the dress code laid down by the Church.
We know how to dress in compliance with our office dress code. But we dress like slobs for church. Ask ourselves: Can I wear my church attire to office?
If parents and guardians fail to be model Catholics, we can expect children to grow up and continue to dress outrageously in church, especially at Mass.
During a U.S. Catholic Forum on Dress Code in Church, a woman said that short skirts and shorts, spaghetti straps, tight pants and tight stretchy tops were distracting to her, even as a woman, “because I find myself wondering: ‘What are you thinking by coming to Mass dressed like that?’.... So instead of focusing on Jesus, I have let myself focus on others.”
In view of this controversy, I suggest churches address this problem once and for all by posting an appropriate dress code on their main door or entrance. Church wardens should ensure that those who fail to comply are not allowed to enter the church, and they should eject anyone who is found to be improperly attired.