Church attire has undoubtedly become more lax throughout the years, but some members of the cloth are asking how casual is too casual?
Deacon Greg Kandra couldn't believe his eyes when a woman approached the altar for communion wearing a Hooters shirt, according to a Scripps Howard News Service article featured in the Seattle Times.
Kandra, who is currently a deacon in a Forest Hills, N.Y. Catholic church, banded with other clergy members to raise awareness about inappropriate dress -- with a little humor, of course.
Scripps Howard reports:
One bulletin item proclaimed, with a gag headline: "PLANS FOR PARISH SWIMMING POOL SCRAPPED! After much study, our finance committee has determined it would not be feasible to construct an indoor swimming pool in our church. ... As a result, we can now announce with certainty that those who have been arriving for Mass as if dressed for the pool need not do so. Also, we hope to keep the air conditioning cranking all summer long. So you do not need to wear shorts, halter tops or bikinis to Mass."
But the incident in Kandra's parish isn't the first to send priests and deacons scrambling to spread the word on what's considered "appropriate dress." More and more parishes around the world are instating dress codes to encourage churchgoers to cover up.
An archbishop in Leon, Mexico, has placed "dress code" signs in front of churches, similar to the illustrations found at the Vatican, according to Our Sunday Visitor.
Archbishop José Guadalupe Martin Rabago says the signs serve as a reminder for everyone to dress in a manner not disrespectful to what the Church symbolizes.
“This is not a misogynist attitude of any sort. I am simply asking for the dignity and decorum that this place calls for, that is all," he told Our Sunday Visitor.
What's considered appropriate? A roundup of articles revealed the following guidelines:
Women should not wear miniskirts, sleeveless shirts or low-cut blouses. Men and woman should stay away from shorts, sandals, tight clothing or bare shoulders.
David Wood, director of worship in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, told the Houston Chronicle that he's seen "Sunday best" turn into "anything goes."
Some clergy have accepted that times have changed, and that people want to dress a bit more casual. However, the clothes should be "clean, neat and modest," Father Gregory Pilcher, a pastor in southern Arkansas, explained to Our Sunday Visitor.
Except for one family, Pilcher said his congregation respects and follows his plea.
Monsignor Joseph Funaro said he worries some parishioners' relaxed dress code might represent another problem: that people view Church as something they have to do before continuing on with activities "they consider more important than Mass," according to Scripps Howard.