Is it bad manners to wear hats to church?

I recently visited a different parish than my usual parish in my diocese. While browsing the parish’s web site later, I was surprised to see included in a notice about etiquette in the sanctuary that hats should not be worn. There was no distinction between men and women, just a blanket request to everyone that they not wear “hats” (veils or other headcoverings were not mentioned). Can you shed some light on this?

It is possible that the notice was poorly worded. As far as etiquette is concerned, it is bad manners for laymen to wear hats in a church (and most other buildings for that matter), but laywomen may wear hats in a church if they wish (but they are not required to do so). If there was an intention to state that all hats by everyone were “bad manners,” the only explanation I can think of to explain why women’s hats were included is that some women’s hats might block the view of the altar by those people sitting behind a woman wearing that type of hat. There are many styles of hats available for women that do not block others’ view, and it would indeed be considerate to choose such a hat when attending a church service. But it is simply inaccurate for a church to say that it is “bad manners” for any layperson, man or woman, to wear a hat in the sanctuary.

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