Women Required To Cover Head, Vatican Insists


#1

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Yes, even the Vatican insists that women are still required to cover their heads during mass. As pointed out in a previous story, the issue first came up in 1969, in which the secular media wrongly reported rumors that the Church was changing the 2000 year old custom. The Vatican responded to the false reports with the following press release. The mainstream media virtually ignored it. As far as I can tell, only one American newspaper ran the article – The Atlanta Journal (June 21, 1969, page 6-A).

Women Required To Cover Head, Vatican Insists

VATICAN CITY (UPI) - A Vatican official says there has been no change, as reported, in the Roman Catholic rule that women cover their head in church.

The Rev. Annibale Bugnini, secretary of the New Congregation for Divine Worship, said the reports stemmed from a misunderstanding of a statement he made at a news conference in May.

“The rule has not been changed,” he said. “It is a matter of general discipline. It began as a custom in the time of St. Paul and was later incorporated into canon law.”

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: St. Paul draws upon the marriage relationship as a symbol (a sacrament) illustrating the relationship of Christ and his Church. The man represents Christ, and Paul commands the men to love their wives and die for them if necessary. In turn, he never commands the wives to love (and die for) their husbands – only obey them. The veil worn over the top of the woman’s head serves two purposes. The first is to illustrate that the wife is obeying her husband (or daughter is obeying her father) and submitting to his authority as head of the household. (This doesn’t mean she placates to his every whim, but rather she allows him to have the final say on spiritual matters in the home.) Second, it becomes a demonstration of her sanctity because of this. It’s a symbol of holiness, because she has voluntarily “died” to her own aspirations of spiritual authority, and submitted to the spiritual authority of her husband (or father), just as the Church does for Christ.

That which is veiled is holy. We veil the tabernacle in Church, because we believe the blessed sacrament (eucharist) is holy. Every image of the Blessed Virgin Mary always depicts her wearing a veil over her hair. Once again, this is a depiction of holiness, because of her willingness to die to self, to obey the plan of God.


#2

Um, that was 37 years ago. In case you haven’t noticed, times change. Specifically, there was a new Code of Canon Law in 1983. The head covering was in the 1917 canon, but removed from the 1983.

This story is 23 years out of date.


#3

Canons 20-21 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law make clear that later Canon Law abrogates earlier Canon Law only when this is made explicit and that, in cases of doubt, the revocation of earlier law is not to be presumed; quite the opposite:

Canon 20 A later law abrogates or derogates from an earlier law, if it expressly so states, or if it is directly contrary to that law, or if it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law. A universal law, however, does not derogate from a particular or from a special law, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.

Canon 21 In doubt, the revocation of a previous law is not presumed; rather, later laws are to be related to earlier ones and, as far as possible, harmonized with them.

Canons 27 and 28 add to the argument:

Canon 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.

Canon 28 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 5, a custom, whether contrary to or apart from the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law. But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs.

Hence, according to Canon Law and immemorial custom, women are still to veil themselves.


#4

:frowning: I just spent $39.95 on the 1917 edition this week-end. Didn’t see the 1983 version anywhere.


#5

There is certianly nothing wrong with the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and it is the operating Canon Law of the Church today. However, as I pointed out above, the 1983 Code defers to the 1917 Code whenever it is silent on a particular subject. Changes in Canon Law only happen when they explicitly say they happen. The 1983 Code of Canon Law is silent about a number of things, of which head coverings for women is just one particular topic.


#6

I have a point on both sides of the issue. When I attend the TLM I wear a head covering. Women who attend the Novus Ordo are not
required to wear a head covering. Not all women care to wear one
either. I go to the Novus Ordo every now and then, and I do not wear a head covering when I attend the Novus Ordo. Is it just a
matter of prference? I don’t know. I have not heard the Holy Father
state that women must cover their heads at Novus Ordo Mass.
So what is the big deal?


#7

I wish we would readopt the old customs that were abandoned recently.

Women wear head coverings and men dress up a bit more too, shirt, tie, dress pants etc… It’s just a discipline and a sign of respect IMO.

However before we worry about head coverings, there’s probably a lot more issues that need to be resolved first. I highly doubt we ever see a resurgence of head coverings. Not one woman in my Parish wears one, and we have thousands attend on the weekends.


#8

Check out 1st Corinthains 11:1-16 on the matter, and St. Paul will explain the “big deal” as he sees it. I reccomend using the RSV-CE edition for a good translation on this topic.


#9

I think the failure to observe this apostolic custom is the result of feminist influences over our modernist culture. So long as Catholic women embrace feminist modernism, the apostlic custom of head covering will be ignored.


#10

The tenor of this thread gives some insight as to why many people pay so little heed to “traditionalists.” Talk about a waste of time.


#11

So, then, are we (women) required to have long hair and men short? That is also in St. Paul’s letter. Just something I’ve always wondered–if those in favor of head covering also felt women should not cut their hair, or at least keep it long. I don’t think it’s a big deal either–if our bishop says cover, I’ll do it, if he says no, OK.


#12

If you look at the context, I think Paul’s mention of hair length is an illustration. He’s simply using cultural norms to make a point. He cites no ecclesiastical custom for hair length on men and women.


#13

:confused: How is debating proper liturgical custom a “waste of time?” I disagree. If genuflecting before the sacrament is important, than so is head veiling.


#14

Because it’s a non-issue. It’s not open to debate. The very people who bemoan “liturgical abuses” (and other variances) seem to be the first to suggest they know “better” than the Church on other items. That’s horribly hypocritical, leading to a loss of credibility.


#15

So are you saying we shouldn’t “bemoan liturgical abuses” and just accept the liturgy for whatever it is, wherever we find it, regardless of what’s being (or not being) done?


#16

I don’t think women not covering their heads has as much to do with feminist idealism as it does with cultural norms. Most people don’t wear hats anymore the way our grandparents did. How many men wear fedoras or bowlers or other types of business hats. Men wear baseball hats and other types of casual hats if they wear them at all. And don’t know a single woman who wears hats except for the weather. The wearing of hats has simply fallen out of favor for both sexes in our culture.


#17

Well I can’t disagree with that. However, the question begs to be asked as to whether this really has anything to do with women no longer veiling their heads in public. For example; bowing before royalty and civil magistrates left our culture hundreds of years ago. However, Catholics still bow (genuflect) before the blessed sacrament. So if bowing is no longer a custom in our culture, than why do Catholics bow (genuflect) before the sacrament? If the cultural norms affect our religious practice in one are, than why not the other?

Or could it be there is a deeper reason behind the loss of this custom? Could it be that our feminist society has told Catholic women that covering the head is “something bad,” that represents “male dominance” and “submission to men?” Could it be that feminist society has influenced our women through peer pressure, to adopt the attitudes of the secular world in our celebration of the mass? I think it’s a question that begs further investigation.


#18

I don’t think women not covering their heads has as much to do with feminist idealism as it does with cultural norms. Most people don’t wear hats anymore the way our grandparents did. How many men wear fedoras or bowlers or other types of business hats. Men wear baseball hats and other types of casual hats if they wear them at all. And don’t know a single woman who wears hats except for the weather. The wearing of hats has simply fallen out of favor for both sexes in our culture.

This is the number one reason I choose not to wear a mantilla to Mass. We have a very nice, devout homeschooling family in our parish and all the daughters wear very pretty, lacy head coverings.

Unfortunately, I think the rest of the parish sees it as an arrogant, stuck in the past action rather than devotion to a past custom. The 1950s clothing, long puffy sleeves, slick hairdos, etc also don’t help.

When I prepare for Mass, I make sure that my clothes cover me comfortably so that I don’t have to worry about them during mass (don’t we all see the girls in mass who have to pull their shirts down every 2 seconds?). I also make sure it is extra nice clothing as I view participation of the Mass a celebration.

Other than that, I think wearing abnormal clothing or items, or acting abnormally, is simply done for other people, and if truly not, then other people see it that way.

Abnormal being used as anything out of the average norm.


#19

But what of Canon Law? What of 2000 years of Tradition? What of the Biblical reference to this apostolic custom (1st Corinthians 11)? Do we throw it all aside just because it’s not the “average norm” in our churches anymore? QUESTION: Are we going to mass to please God or men?


#20

Women no longer wearing head coverings due to cultural changes and genuflecting before Our Lord in the tabernacle are not on the same plane of importance. One is a liturgical norm (genuflecting) and the other isn’t.

Or could it be there is a deeper reason behind the loss of this custom? Could it be that our feminist society has told Catholic women that covering the head is “something bad,” that represents “male dominance” and “submission to men?” Could it be that feminist society has influenced our women through peer pressure, to adopt the attitudes of the secular world in our celebration of the mass? I think it’s a question that begs further investigation.

While radical feminism certainly has made an impact on our society, I think you are making way too much of it with this. As I stated above, no one wears hats of the type that were the cultural norm of a couple of generations ago. It’s simply fallen out of fashion and will probably come back into fashion at some future time. I hardly think it’s all that important.


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