caused by necessity or force; compulsory.
This may not be a question that is literally asked, but it is one that most people think of when they hear about MODESTY, MODESTY STANDARDS, VEILING and so on.
Some Catholics do believe Modesty standards should be literally enforced.
There are two problems with that thinking;
1. The Modesty Standards they believe should be enforced are usually their own modesty beliefs, rather than the Catholic Church’s Modesty Guidelines.
2. The Catholic Church respects the free will of the person (God Himself respects our free will, this is the why we have sin. It also shows how much He loves us.)
But does the Catholic Church enforce Modesty standards and veiling?
According to Cardinal Burke, who has proved to be loyal to the Church’s Magisterium, is a prominent Canon Lawyer, and was Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from June 2008 until November 2014 (He was reappointed by Pope Francis as a member of the Apostolic Signatura in September 2017)
“The wearing of a chapel veil for women is not required when women assist at the Holy Mass according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It is, however, the expectation that women who assist at the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form cover their heads…It is not, however, a sin to participate in the Holy Mass according to the Extraordinary Form without a veil.”
While veiling is a beautiful act, that all women should do to more prominently humble themselves under God and show the importance of His Presence, it is not enforced. (On the note of veiling check out this article that further explains this, and this video that speaks of the beauty of veiling)
Does the Catholic Church enforce certain Modesty Standards in Dress?
In the light of the seriousness of Modesty in dress, the Catholic Church has brought out Modesty guidelines to aid in being able to dress without having to worry about inches, or being an serious occasion of sin.
Now moving on, if we view immodesty as a sin, which it certainly is, we can understand its weight is defined by three things:
(CCC 1857) “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”
Immodesty can be grave matter, but the person dressing immodestly must also be committed with full knowledge of his or her sinful behavior and they must have deliberate consent.
So, does the Catholic Church enforce a certain standard of Modesty in Dress? No. But the question should also perhaps be reworded to say something like:
“Does the Church literally force those who dress immodestly to dress a certain way, after giving them the proper information and guidance concerning its importance and seriousness?”
Well, has the Catholic Church ever officially forced a sinner to stop sinning?
In the case of The inquisition “The inquisitions were instituted to protect both guilty and innocent people from the gross injustice of secular leaders and mob rule thus initiating an unprecedented level of justice and order throughout much of Europe.”
“The medieval Inquisition began in 1184 when Pope Lucius III sent a list of heresies to Europe’s bishops and commanded them to take an active role in determining whether those accused of heresy were, in fact, guilty. Rather than relying on secular courts, local lords, or just mobs, bishops were to see to it that accused heretics in their dioceses were examined by knowledgeable churchmen using Roman laws of evidence. In other words, they were to “inquire” — thus, the term “inquisition.” (source)
“For 2,000 years, the Church has seen certain actions in the realm of human sexuality, e.g., fornication, masturbation, pornography, incest, and pedophilia, as intrinsically evil, regardless of intention. Such actions, deliberately chosen, are always and everywhere wrong to do, displeasing to God, incompatible with grace and inheriting eternal life.” (source)
As it has been stated officially and repeatedly by the Church, proper care can and should be taken in the matter of Dress for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This duty coincides with the duty to be sure that the faithful attending the Mass are aware to be respectful in how they receive Christ :
- they must not be in the state of Mortal Sin,
- Dunking Our Lord’s body into His Blood themselves is forbidden,
- following the Mass properly is called upon all those attending Mass
- overall proper Mass Etiquette is required, considering the seriousness of the matter (The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass)
Although it does explicitly state importance, seriousness, and duty of sinners in different situations in their everyday life so as they can properly glorify God, offend Him less, and hopefully attain Heaven after death, the Catholic Church does not encourage us to forcefully (in a violent way) make others “listen” and “adhere” to the rules and requirements of the Church, outside of Mass and such. Our personal duties are not to police others in this way.
Should a Modesty Standard and Veiling be enforced?
This question is not for a layperson, nor perhaps even for a pastor, but it is for the Holy Mother Church to decide. If she so decides, so be it, if she does not, it should not be so.
So as a layperson, I cannot make such an assumption as to say that a Modesty Standard should be policed and enforced. Or that veiling should be policed and enforced.
My personal opinion (which holds no weight whatsoever) is that, NO, it should not be policed or enforced in a violent way, as it is not like the Church to do so. But that is just my opinion.
We can only learn what the Church has taught and is teaching about Dressing, Acting, Speaking, and Thinking Modestly and its views on veiling, and do our best to follow it and be the good example. Sharing its information charitably and doing all things for the greater glory of God.
We cannot make assumptions about what we think the Church should do, and expect it to become Canon Law. The Church is a hierarchy.