Combat indecent Fashions, Pope Benedict XV, 1919

Translated from its original french


Pope Benedict XV, ”  Addressing the Mission of Women in Society”, to a delegation of the Union of Catholic Women, October 21, 1919, inActs of Benedict XV, Volume II, House of Good Press, Paris, 1926 , p. 69-70.

(…) We must hasten, however, to We congratulate the resolution we just made, you will ensure that Catholic women feel obliged to not only be honest, but to prove his honesty by way of dressing. Such resolution recalls the need for the Catholic woman to set a good example.

What serious and urgent duty to condemn the exaggerations of-fashion! Born from the corruption of those who launch them, as noted earlier the dignified President of the Union of Catholic Women, these toilets are unseemly, alas one of the most powerful ferment of the general corruption of morals.

We believe it necessary to insist in a special way on this. We know, on the one hand, some admitted today toilets in women are fatal to the good of society as they are an evil provocation to evil; and, secondly, we are filled with wonder, amazement, seeing that those who pay the poison seem to ignore the disastrous effects that the arsonist who set fire to the house seems to ignore the devastation of power .

Ignorance alone can explain the deplorable extension taken today by a fashion so contrary to modesty, the most beautiful ornament of the Christian woman; better informed, it seems to us that a woman could never have come to this excess wear indecent dressing into the holy place, under the gaze of natural masters and the most authoritative of Christian morality.

Also, with what satisfaction-We support the adherent of the Union of Catholic women have enrolled in their program to show the resolution even honest in their implementation. Through this commitment they meet the strict duty not to give scandal and not to be for others a stumbling block in the path of virtue; they testify, moreover, have understood that their mission having taken a large extent in society, it is their responsibility to set a good example not only within the walls of the domestic hearth, but in the streets and public squares. It is important that Catholic women accept logically this important task: it requires them, in addition to individual bonds, a social mission.

We also wish that the many-adherent of the Union of Catholic Women met today in Our presence together form a league to combat indecent modes, not just regarding them, but in all persons or families on which their influence can be exercised effectively.

The Christian mother should never, of course, allow her daughters to give in to the false demands of a reprehensible fashion; but it will not be superfluous to add that the wife of a higher social rank is strictly bound not to tolerate among its visitors toilet immodesty. A notice about prevent the return of Celtic bold lack of reserve that violates human well understood hospitality. And perhaps the echo of this blame, opportunely arriving at others somewhat attentive, creative accomplices unseemly ways, ‘he would have the courage not to dishonor wearing these indecent toilets or other like that wise hostess will reprobate without hesitation.

We believe this league against the deregulation of fashion can only find welcome among fathers, husbands, brothers, and all the activists courageous parents. We would, in any case, that are working to promote and spread the best sacred pastors and all the priests who have charge of souls, where fashion has crossed the limits of modesty … and she has crossed in many areas!

But our voices are heard mainly from you, very dear daughters, who have now expressed your resolution to be apostles in the midst of the world.

Do not believe, however, that the example only promotes the educational work that accrues directly to the woman in the family and outside it; Christian courage, which gives life to the example of the woman in the corrupt environment of our time and stands up to the overflow indecent modes, further facilitating the mission of the woman in the middle of society. Also popular language itself he expresses a saying common sense when he says that “virtue is necessary.” (…).

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