Headcovering in the Catholic Tradition
- 1 Cor 11:4-17.
- Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact that your meetings are doing more harm than good.
The 1917 Code of Canon Law was abrogated in 1983; Canon 1262 is no longer in effect, according to the opinions of those canonists whose judgment I respect. Others disagree. So far as I can tell, there is not one syllable in the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the issue, so I feel fairly confident that it is no longer a matter of law but of personal preference (except in those churches like papal churches in Rome that have their own local dress code, which is well within their rights to impose on their members and guests; I don't know what the custom or traditions are in the Eastern Rites of the Roman Catholic Church).
- 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1262
- English translation taken from Catholic Apologetics International.
|§1||Optandum ut, congruenter antiquae disciplinae, mulieres in ecclesia separatae sint a viris.||It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.|
|§2||Viri in ecclesia vel extra ecclesiam, dum sacris ritibus assistunt, nudo capite sint, nisi aliud ferant probati populorum mores aut peculiaria rerum adiuncta; mulieres autem, capite cooperto et modeste vestitae, maxime cum ad mensam Dominicam accedunt.||Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.|