Instruction Of The Sacred Congregation Of The Council
In recent weeks we have published a series of letters on the subject of modern dress. These letters were occasioned by a photograph on our picture page of Miss Helen Jacobs playing at Wimbledon in shorts.
This week we are giving below the instructions which recently were issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites upon the subject of modesty in women's dress. They read:
Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of the Council to the Diocesan Ordinaries: Concerning Immodesty in Women's Dress, In virtue of his supreme apostolate, exercised in the universal Church accordto Divine Ordinance, Our most Holy Lord, Pope Pius XI, has never ceased, both in words and writing, to inculcate the teaching of St. Paul (I Tim. ii, 9, 10), namely: " The women to wear seemly apparel, adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, and . . •. as becOmeth women prod fessing godliness, with good works."
And repeatedly, as occasion offered, has the Supreme Pontiff disapproved of and most strongly condemned the immodest manner of dress which has come into use to-day, also among Catholic women and girls; a fashion which not only gravely offends womanly decorum and adornment but tends most unhappily not only to the temporal disgrace of such women, but what is worse to their eternal ruin and that of others as well.
It is not surprising, therefore, if Bishops and other Local Ordinaries, as befits the ministers of Christ, have each in his own diocese unanimously resisted by every means in their power, such depraved license and shamelessness; supporting with calmness and fortitude the derision and mockery directed against them in consequence by the malevolent.
Therefore this Sacred Council for the promotion of discipline of the clergy and laity both approves of and praises the vigilance of these Pastors, and urges them to persevere and insist in the course and measures opportunely adopted, as much as lies in their power, until this pestiferous disease is entirely extirpated from decent human society.
That this may the more easily and surely be effected, this Sacred Congregation, under orders of our most Holy Lord, has decreed the following: 1. Let Parish priests especially and preachers given the opportunity, in the words of St. Paul (II, Tim. iv, 2) be urgent, reprove, rebuke, and exhort that women wear such dress as becomes modesty and is an ornament and safeguard of virtue; and let them admonish parents not to allow their daughters to wear indecorus dress.
2. Let parents, mindful of the very grave obligation which is theirs to see above all to the religious and moral education of their children, take special care that their daughters from their earliest years are selidly instructed in Christian Doctrine, and let them themselves by word and example studiously foster in these souls the love of modesty and chastity. Let them strive to build up and direct the family, imitating the example of the Holy Family, in such wise that each member finds in the domestic circle a principle and inducement to love and safeguard modesty.
3. Let parents likewise withhold their daughters from taking part in public athletic exercises and gymnastic contests; and if their attendance at such be compulsory, let them see that they are dressed in such a way as fully accords with modesty; indecent dress, however, let them never allow their daughters to wear.
4. Lady Directors of colleges and school mistresses should so strive to instil in the minds of their girls a love of modesty that these are effectively induced to dress decently.
5. Let these same lady directors and mistresses not admit girls, nor even their mothers, if they are not dressed decently, into their colleges and schools and let them dismiss any who may have been admitted, unless they mend their ways.
6. Let religious, according to the instructions given by the Sacred Congregation of Religious. dated 23rd August, 1928, not admit in their colleges, schools, chapels and playgrounds, girls who do not observe the Christian manner of dressing, and let them not tolerate any such who may have been admitted. In the education of their pupils, let them take special care that in the minds of the young the love of holy modesty and Christian propriety are deeply rooted.
7. Let pious Associations of women be established and encouraged, which will have as their special aim, by counsel, example and propaganda, to check abuses in the wearing of dress incompatible with Christian modesty, and to promote purity of morals and decency of dress.
8. Those who dress immodestly are not to be admitted to pious Associations of women, and if admitted must be expelled, if after due admonition they do not change their ways or afterwards to offend in this matter.
9. Girls and women, who wear immodest dress, are to be refused Holy Communion, and are not to be allowed to stand as sponsors at Baptism and Confirmation, and if need be, are to be refused admission into the Church.
10. When in the course of the year occur feasts which provide a suitable occasion for inculcating Christian modesty, especially the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let parish priests and directors of Pious Unions and Catholic Associations not neglect to recall by a timely address and urge women to observe the Christian manner of dress. On the feast of the Immaculate Conception let special prayers be offered in all cathedral and parish churches every year, and, where possible, let timely exhortations be given to the people in a public sermon.
11. Let the Diocesan Council of Vigilance, mention of which is made in the Instruction of the Holy Office dated 22nd March, 1928, at least once a year deal expressly with the question of the best ways and means for the effective promotion of feminine modesty.
An Italian Point of View
The correspondence which has been appearing on the subject of the dress worn by young women on the beaches and tennis courts of this island reminded one reader of an article which appeared in the " Osservatore Romano" a month or so ago, 4 translation of which might prove interesting and even instructive at this season.
Under the heading Morals for the beaches a speech made by Signora Carlotta Alfieri Bonomi, the wife of the Minister of the Press and Propaganda, to a gathering of, women in Genoa is quoted in extenso with the following introduction:
" The words of the speaker constitute a hymn to the mission of woman in the home and in society, as wc11 a.3 a clear and firm warning against moral lapses which denaturalise and lowei the true feminine spirit."
The rest is a quotation of the relevant words:— " The approach of the bathing season raises the whole question of the clothes which are worn on the beaches; these have grown so abbreviated of recent years that there may seem to be no remedy for the scandal which they cause. I am overcome by a profound sadness when I recall that it is only a few years since a woman who wore too brief a bathing suit was at once put down as a foreigner; since then the Italian girl has seen fit to imitate the lack of good taste and scruple of people who have a moral code less elevated than the Catholic and a tenor of life less dignified than the Italian, thereby abandoning a virtue which even pagans served, namely modesty."
The Real Point "It is not a question of whether a handkerchief and a pair of shorts are enough for a bathe, nor whether two handkerchiefs are too little for sunbathing; rather it is a question of whether there is or is not a certain special attitude—of purity, dignity and grace—which should distinguish a girl who is a Christian and a Fascist.
Misfits " Be sure that the abandon of this standard is most harmful, especially by reason of the scandal that it gives to the young and to the poor. Expensive bathing dresses which are made with more care may perhaps keep up a certain appearance of decency, but the greater number made wholesale can but have the most improper effect by reason of their misfit; no blame-shall be attached to the work-girl who buys admiration for a few sixpences, but it will be borne by her better-off sister whose illadvised example led the way."
" It would be a great thing if Italian beaches became famed for the conduct of the bathers so that Italian girls, modest and graceful, would be famous for the virtues traditional among their mothers.
NEW ARCHBISHOP OF ROUEN Mgr. Petit de Julleville
The Bishop of Dijon, Mgr. Petit de Julleville, has been appointed to the Archbishopric of Rouen, lately declared vacant by action of the Holy See.
The new Archbishop was a chaplain during the War and was mentioned in despatches.
A native of Dijon, his tenure of the See during nearly ten years, was marked by an exceptional quality of pastoral leadership which culminated in a famous pastoral on the organisation of Diocesan • Catholic Action.
Mgr. GOODIER'S VIEW
Mgr. Goodier once wrote : " Woman's weakest point is precisely that which in another sense is her strongest—the tendency to take that for good which is evil, to yield a little that greater good may come, to deceive even herself that she may attain • the knowledge of good and evil.'
" It is easy, and, alas! too common to have evidence of the process. A child steps Into life with the brightness of her childhood upon her; thinking little of herself because as yet she has not discovered herself, full of life because inwardly serene, full of splendour and promise. Men look on and admire; as yet admiration is enough, though that very admiration means the beginning of her power. Which way will she use it?
" Sotin,-vrry soon, she becomes conscious of it all. She can draw the eyes of men; she can win the hearts of men; she can bend men to obey her will; her presence or her absence can even decide the happiness of many. It is an intoxicating discovery; her cheek flushes, her eyes are brighter, she holds her head higher, she steps abroad more lightly, she laughs at every fancy, a queen in her domain of mankind. So she plunges in, laughingly, daringly, declaring that she sees no harm, silencing every warning, accustoming herself to every further step, defying conscience UNTIL AT LAST IT CEASES To SPEAK, making more and more merry on the outside, and telling herself that this is life, allowing herself no time or thought to see how it is within, refusing to believe what she very well knows or knew before she made the plunge, that at the end of this road lies the death of her best self. And it might have been so different!"
COMMUNISM IN AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES
From Our Russian Correspondent.
In its last issue, July 1, Nachrichtendienst speaks of the progress of communism in the American colleges. It reports that on April 22 the American Student Union, an organization strongly tainted by communism, organized an anti-war strike in which half-a-million students participated. Naturally only a small minority were conscious of being the tools of the Komintern. The " anti-war " movement works in all countries in order to mobilize the bourgeoisie against fascism, the greatest enemy of communism. In America, this propaganda is also directed against " the military preparations of the American government," and demands the abolition of the reserve officers training-corps and all military training in the schools.
The expansion of communist activities may be gauged by comparing the present strike with the one organized on April 13, 1934, under the auspices of the State Students' League and the Students' League for Industrial Democracy. Though the actual membership of these two leagues numbered only 7,000, some 25,000 people joined in the strike. This time the united front included several other organizations, such as the Methodist Youth, the Congress of American Youth, etc. In December, 1935, both leagues were merged into the American Students' Union, where communists play a predominant part, and the great strike of this year, with half-a-million participants, and many thousands of negro-students, was the result of the activity of this united front. A disquieting factor consists in the increase of communist sympathies among the professors and teachers who look tolerantly on the progress of communism among their students.
Similar tactics are applied in Canada where the Students' League of Canada strongly influenced by communist ideals, numbers some 100,000 members, and possesses a network of local branches. An attempt is being made to bring the Christian Student Movement in Canada under the control of this League.