On improper Fashions, Bishop Luzon

Original French article.

Pastoral Letter of His Eminence Cardinal Luçon, Archbishop of Reims, the clergy and the faithful of his diocese.


We can not defer more to come speak of abuse that all sensible people are unanimous in deploring: we mean the unseemly ways in women’s apparel.

Publicists, lecturers, doctors have had good protest in the name of morality, aesthetics and hygiene, the highest ecclesiastical authorities in the name of Christian modesty; labor lost: the traits of satire, as the arguments of reason, have blunted against the tyranny of fashion, the religious sentiment itself has failed to be obeyed, and we see suits and nudity that decency should prohibit even in the street, enter today in our churches and to the Holy Table, where they are more displaced than elsewhere. This is what puts us in the need to speak.

It is not our role, nor our intention to criticize in regard to aesthetics and art these extravagant ways of dressing, and bring out what they have ridiculous and contrary to good taste which our country has always glorified to be the best school.

We will consider the point either under the hygiene report to point out that some nudity are not safe for health. We stand at a higher point of view.

I. – We observe, first, that current methods do not agree with honesty and morality even just natural.

Modesty is the finest and noblest adornment of women. Respect for oneself and the sense of dignity should inspire her disgust of those eccentric costumes and these nudes that seem a challenge to modesty, and are only suitable for women which they would be ashamed to look like.

If there a few years they had seen a person in such attire, before he had become fashionable, they would have laughed, and might have despised; at any price, certainly, they would have agreed to the same.

Fashion has not changed the character of these intrinsically wrong indecent costumes.

It claims the moral reconstruction of the country: it is certainly not the intention to contribute were invented and launched the current fashions. Born of corruption, they are one of the most effective agents of moral depravity. They are, by themselves, a provocation to evil, an exciting passions. No one can in good faith to support safety.

Do not let perish in your hands, Christian women, these beautiful simplicity family traditions, dignity of life, purity of manners which, in past centuries, ensured the honor and happiness of your homes, and have made the French woman the kind of distinction.

Do not go looking for your models out of here. For a long time it was France that sets the tone: keep it worthy of this honorable prerogative.

In terms of dress, the beautiful does not separate the good nor the distinction and elegance of simplicity.

Make sure your children’s costume is always consistent with the rules of decency, and do not let your daughters to give in to training reprehensible methods; but to have the authority to make them accept this reserve, give them in yourself by example.

Everything holds elsewhere: the concessions made fashionable by too much freedom and frivolity in the garment are breaching the law of modesty; by this breach to introduce the facility to allow all kinds of readings, performances, entertainment, worldly dating, to the great detriment of the domestic virtues and family life.

II. Second, we must not forget that we live in society, and we owe each other obligations, particularly that of a good example. We all have the strict duty not to scandalize the next wearing it to evil by evil examples.

This duty arises with even greater rigor than it belongs to a higher class of society. The lower classes, indeed, naturally seek to model themselves on the higher classes. They must be careful not to forget, and never give other examples they can imitate. What authority can they have to condemn the people abuse or disorder, if they themselves are permitted?

The people understands very well: he has an innate sense, though confused perhaps, of propriety. He is fully aware that people who, because of their birth, wealth, culture, occupation, position in society a higher rank, are required to dress in relation to the superiority of their rank; and as the display of excessive and insolent luxury used as a pretext to anarchists and revolutionary excitements; The same eccentricity and indecency modes kill the respect that people have for the people of the upper classes, if they still had an outfit worthy of their status.

Ridiculous modes provoke contempt. That women which Providence has given among other privileged rank, carefully avoid giving a pretext to scorn; they have to heart, instead, to earn the respect by the impeccable dignity of their clothes: it’s one of their social duties. :

III. But it is especially the religious sentiment of our Christian women we want to call in to divert indecent or simply unseemly ways.

As in the order of civil things, everyone wants to be dressed according to the require propriety of his rank or condition, so must we observe in the moral propriety of our religion and our condition Christians. These proprieties should be settled according to the teachings of our faith.

Now, according to the teachings of our faith, God did us the honor of creating us in his image. Do we understand the obligation to respect this divine likeness in us and not to dishonor by an indecent way we dress?

Through baptism God has adopted us for his children. If a child of humble condition was adopted by a king, would it not be required to wear only clothing s related to the rank which he would have been raised by such high favor? How much more so, should we honor our dignity as children of God, by prohibiting any development that we would not grant supernatural with such condition?

We become by sanctifying grace the temples of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Communion living sanctuaries of the Holy Eucharist: is it does not require us always worthy of holding divine guests who deign to honor us with their visit and their permanent presence?

“Do you not know, says St. Paul, that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, the members of the Mystical Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ”: therefore glorify and honor God by keeping your outdoor present in you and in whose presence you are everywhere.

Finally Christianity is essentially the religion of the Cross. It has indispensably some gravity of manners, which is summarized in subjection of the flesh to the spirit. This is to all believers of his Gospel that our Lord address these. words: “Whoever wants to be my disciple, let him deny oneself, take up my cross and follow me. “The whole life of the Christian, his language, his dress, his morals must be marked with the imprint of the Cross. The frivolous and indecent methods are a return to pagan customs; they are incompatible with the spirit of the Gospel, with Christian morality: a Christian must ban.

We therefore urge our diocesan faithful not to get drawn aware of improper modes that rejects good taste, as well as the natural modesty to the honest and serious woman. If the considerations just described fail to convince and persuade all, we do not doubt the point that many of them have quite the Christian sense to recognize the correctness and do not comply with a duty.

There is at least one point on which we see ourselves as certain to encounter a unanimous obedience: that nobody will afford to appear to church with these unseemly toilet, that is to say, low-cut dress or bare arms. If there is one place where the frivolous fashions and nudity are particularly displaced, is not it the House of God?

Is it not an inexcusable lack of respect, not to say a challenge or insult to the holiness of God, to enter his temple, and especially to approach the sacraments in an outfit so blatantly immodest? The habit of some people these kinds of probably prevents the toilet notice the disrespect they commit wearing them into the holy place: We have a duty to point out to them, and he did will not that well informed, not hasten, out of respect for the House of God, to comply pm recommendations.

Consequently :

1. We strongly urge women and girls of our diocese to observe in their clothes the rules of Christian modesty.

2. They should absolutely abstain from appearing at the church, especially in the public offices and during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, cut dresses and bare arms.

3. They will not be admitted to this Court held in St. Penance nor the Holy Table.

And will be, this pastoral letter with the command which terminates, read and published in the main advocates of Mass in churches and chapels of our diocese on Sunday that following receipt.

Given in Reims, in the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, August 15, 1925.

+ LJ Cardinal LUÇON,

Archbishop of Reims.

By Mandement

J. Lecomte, Chamberlain of His Holiness,
VG, Secretary General .


Bulletin of the diocese of Reims , 53rd year, No. 35, Saturday, August 29, 1925, p.273 -276.

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