Veiling in Church

Before the late 1960s when most Catholic women stopped veiling in church, was it considered a sin not to do so? Or, was it just something people should do? If it was a sin, was it a venial or a grave sin?

Thanks. :thumbsup:

From 1917 until 1983 it was canon law that women must cover their heads in a Catholic church.


Do you know what kind of sin it was?

We stopped covering our heads before 1983. I can’t remember when, exactly but as I recall that discipline was gone by the time I graduated from high school in 71.

While we covered our heads, few women ‘veiled’ in Canada and the US. Hats? Kerchiefs? Scarves? Berets? Crocheted caps? Yes, Veils? That didn’t really start until the mid 60s and it was seen as the easiest way to carry a head covering in your purse or pocket ‘just in case’.

It was a venial sin if done intentionally. It is listed in the New Testament as a requirement for women in Church, to show Respect for Our Lord, and has been a Custom since the First Century, an honor only for women. It is ‘required’ by Tridentine Mass which is essentially Council of Trent 1500’s requirement, as is Reception of the Eucharist on the Tongue only, silently, kneeling by all except handicapped.

Is there any chance of The Church bringing the veil back? I really love this tradition and all that it stands for. In a world where you can’t be proud to be simply female (unless you’re in a lesbian relationship) it’s a well needed breath of fresh air.

For us it was the mid 60s. We moved in 1968. At the old Church we covered; at the new Church we didn’t. :shrug:

As I said, it was still a requirement of canon law until 1983.

There is no reason for the Church *“to bring it back”. *
If you want to cover your head, you can do so,
all the Church said was that it is no longer required.

Right. … but the Church can still ‘bring it back’ just as the bishops in the UK are bringing ‘back’ year-round Friday abstinence.

Because part of the reason that it became no longer ‘required’ was based (IMO) on a deliberate falsification and misinformation that was spread among women (and men) – that women covering was a way in which women were made ‘second class’, inferior to men, etc. At the time (1960s) when feminism was riding ‘high’ and women were burning bras and slamming doors onto men who were holding them open and breathing fire about ‘mankind’ and ‘chauvanist pigs’, this kind of talk was EMBARRASSING to the ‘enlightened’ Catholic clergy and laity of the 1960s who wanted Catholicism to be more ‘kumbayah kool’ and less focused on the ‘little old lady in mantilla’ stereotype. Hence, Catholic women ‘just did it’ and threw off the shackles --the ‘scarf’ shackles–in the name of being EQUAL.

Problem was, veils/headcoverings were never about NOT being equal, but about being sacred. About being loving and respectful, not strident and ‘demanding rights’ as though God was punishing us for being uppity wimmen.

I’m seeing a lot more women who are embracing headcoverings for the right reason–because unlike the pile of dreck misinformation that attempted to portray it as nothing but a CUSTOM, it is far more --and women are sensing this and they’re demanding to learn about it.

The ones I feel sorry for are the women who were deluded into thinking that hats are a symbol of male oppression and who even now, even if their HEAD (no pun intended) tells them the truth, have a visceral GUT reaction and just cannot bring themselves to even consider putting on the dreaded ‘hat’. It’s become such a powerful symbol of ‘evil’ to them that they just can’t get past it.

It is NOT required by the Tridentine Mass. It may be the custom in many places, it is not a requirement. There is not a seperate Canon law for the EF and the OF. No one can force a woman to veil, or refuse her entrance to, or Communion in the EF if she does not have a headcovering. And it would not be a sin to not cover. Women in the Roman Catholic church have no obligation to cover their heads, no matter what form of the Mass they attend.

Now following the custom of where you attend is a nice idea, but that is all it is, is a custom.

At the 2 EF Masses I have attended, most of the women had covered heads. I covered my head, and if it was indeed put out there making females cover heads again, I would have NO issue doing so permanently.

I find it strange that this is a law that Paul gave us which we feel we do not need to abide by. If I understand correctly the Church never said the law was removed, it simply didn’t comment on it but then I hear from the Apologists on CA that indeed the law WAS removed… which is it? I’m pretty confused!

What other laws did he give us that we do not listen to due to them being no longer culturally relevant? Does anybody know of any?

What’s the point of these things even being in the Bible if they weren’t meant to guide us? What lesson is there to be learned from head veiling that we learn outside of the actual action?

It’s ambiguous. It wasn’t commented on which could mean that it was abrogated as it was not specifically ‘carried over’, yet the fact that it was not commented on could also mean that it was presumptively still in place as it had not specifically been REMOVED. (Don’t you love legalistic thinking? :rolleyes:) Right now there really has not been a statement to make it completely clear as some apologists hold to one position and some to the other.

It’s the same with non-Friday abstinence outside of Lent. In the U.S. the Indult is just ambiguous enough with its use of the terms of ‘encourage’ (because since it was offering people literally millions of individual ‘choices’ it couldn’t very well list out every single one!) that even though the NORM for Catholics remains Friday abstinence, you have literally millions of Catholics who believe and teach that since ‘encourage’ doesn’t mean’ Must’ that even though Catholics without that indult MUST abstain on Fridays, we special U.S. Catholics can choose never to do a single penitential action on a nonLenten Friday our lives long. Imagine – Catholic A, not in the U.S., abstains on Friday year round but Catholic B in the U.S. only ‘has’ to abstain in Lent. . .and one can BET that Catholic B probably stands in as much need of personal penance as Catholic A and then some. . .

But you see that’s another kind of example, because supposedly we got the Indult because so many vegetarians were complaining that abstinence wasn’t a penance for them because they never ate meat anyway. The bishops wanted to give them a chance to do more. . .and what did they create? 40 plus years of Catholics who for the most part did steadily less and less and less. . .surely not at all what the bishops intended!

As for what we learn with veiling it is about the nature of women (and we DO differ from men), the sense of the sacredness of women who do have a special gift in the potential for motherhood (though any woman who is NOT a mother is NOT second-class!); and finally, something which really sticks in the craw of most ‘modern’ women. . .the idea of HUMILITY.

Instead of “I am woman hear me roar”, a veil says, “I am the servant of the Lord; be it done to me according to THY will.” Submission before GOD (not man). . .humility instead of pride. . .‘covering’ instead of flaunting one’s beauty. . .

Yeah, imagine a world where women didn’t let themselves be ‘objectified’ and be concerned only with their bodies and self-gratification and pride. . .where men were expected to respect and love women who knew their worth as women and were supportive and encouraging men to step up and show THEIR true worthiness instead of acting like selfish brats who never grow up and take responsibility. . .

Would a veil bring all this about? Not the veil per se but the proper attitude behind it. . .just might.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law abrogated the previous Code which had included the head covering requirement (along with urging that women and men sit separately in church.) Here is a link that is a pretty authoritative explanation of the head covering question:

The letter was written by Raymond Cardinal Burke, the church’s highest canonical officer after the Pope. There is also a comparison of the 1917 and 1983 Codes with regard to the subject.

You might also wish to refer to Inter Insigniores, a papal letter from 1976, which refers to head covering as urged by St. Paul as having been a “custom of the time” (of St. Paul) that no longer has “normative value.”

Simply, if women wish to wear a head covering, they may certainly do so. At one time, it was expected, as there was real significance to the practice. Some women still find it significant; it is, however, clearly not required, and is a private devotion.

We must remember that the Church can, and has, modified mutable Church laws as She sees fit, and interprets Scripture; that is the case with regard to head coverings.

The Church has always recommended or Cannon Law, (like Genuflecting for the Eucharitic Procession, Kneeling for Adoration still is); but it Women head cover In Church is now a personal choice since Vatican II (always ignored by some) Mother Angelica Lead the return to Traditions, on EWTN, after the confusion, as always, following Church Councils. Tridentine Mass technically requires head cover of some type, but ignored by many who don’t know, or care. It’s a beautiful Sign of Respect for Our Lord, His Church, and The Bible for women to wear a small head covering. Many of us Notice Their Public Respect for Our Lord/Church. I do. especially little girls in Church with something on their head: parents teaching. :byzsoc:

I now cover my head in church out of respect. I know that my generation was not raised to cover heads at Mass and at church but I choose to do so freely.

I understand all that. Which other custom based laws that Paul laid down have we discarded?

Personally, I would not question a woman’s motives for wearing a veil–it is between her and God. I also would not question NOT wearing one–that, too, is between her and God.

What I do question is wearing one to show how humble one is before God–which is what you SEEM to imply here. I hope that is not what you mean. What is coming across is “I am the servant of the Lord…I have humility instead of pride” and the veil is a symbol of that.

I think your attitude towards other women is demeaning, as if most of us are concerned only with self-gratification and pride, and towards men also–as if most of them act like selfish brats, and you sure don’t have a high opinion of other Catholics, do you?

How are lesbians more proud of being simply female than any other woman? :confused:

Just asking because it puzzles me.

As for the rest… :popcorn:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit