Published in the FRANCISCAN HERALD May, 1920:

IN a ringing pastoral letter, the Most
Rev. J. W. Shaw, Archbishop of New, Orleans, has recently issued a solemn
protest against immodesty of female at-
tire. With true apostolic freedom and
manly courage” he scores the modern
styles of woman’s dress; nor does he
mince his words in endeavoring to bring
the women of his diocese to a sense of
their duty in this matter. We are glad
to note that prominent members of the
hierarchy are lending their name and au-
thority to the crusade against indecent
female attire; for, unless the Bishops
raise their voice against this crying abuse,
private efforts must remain unavailing.
The evil is too deep-rooted and universal
to be combated successfully by the hap-
hazard and spasmodic, if well meant, ef-
forts of individual members of the clergy
and the laity. The latter, however, will
feel heartened to keep up the fight by the
outspoken pastoral of Archbishop Shaw.
It contains so much that is timely and
noteworthy that we shall take the liberty
to quote therefrom at some length :

While we are neither presumptuous nor
foolish enough to discuss “colors, forms
and fashions,” yet we are deeply concerned
with the morals of dress in the interest of
Christian purity and modesty. The pres-
ent shocking disregard in modern female
attire for the elementary principles of ordi-
nary decency is simply appalling. It is a
question whether the licentious woman of
the degenerate Roman Empire surpassed
her modern society sister in her immodesty
of dress. To say nothing from an eco-
nomic viewpoint of the large sums ex-
pended foolishly for the gratification of
female vanity, “to be dressed up and built
up and masqueraded” only to be looked at,
the disgusting realism of the modern fash-
ions is fast extinguishing in the hearts of
all noble-minded men that spirit of rever-
ence and chivalry which regarded women
of other days as something almost mystic and divine. How humiliating it must have
been to the painted and wanton beauties of
modern society to read not long ago in a
daily paper that their grotesque and shame-
less fashions originate in the minds of their
fallen sisters in a prominent European
capital!
Oh, the pity and the shame of it that so
many of our ordinarily good Catholic wo-
men of all classes and of nearly every age,
married as well as single, mothers as well
as daughters, are the servile imitators of
the immodest fashions of the day! To
such an extent have some of them lost the
natural modesty and shrinking delicacy of
their sex that they hesitate not to come
before the Holy of Holies and approach
the sacred table in such scant apparel as
must needs make the angels veil their faces
with their wings. We have seriously de-
bated with ourselves whether we are not
bound in conscience to exclude such-women
from the House of God Whose Vicar on
Earth would not tolerate their presence for
a moment. Our patient forbearance and
wish to spare them a painful humiliation
must not be considered as a weak conniv-
ance of their scandalous violation of the
sanctity of God’s. House.

In this connection we wish also to re-
mind parents of their grave obligation to
dress their young daughters, from the ten-
derest years, according to the laws of Chris-
tian modesty. Our Catholic women would
save themselves and others the guilt of
many sins and would win the respect and
esteem of all right-minded persons if they
would follow the example of the God-fear-
ing women of other days, who, in the mat-
ter of dress, took counsel of their good
sense and attired themselves according to
their station in life. These truly Christian
mothers and modest maidens knew how to
avoid the extreme of singularity of plain-
ness, which may be only the affectation of
vanity, and the extreme of servile imitation
of fashions which reflect the corrupt spirit
of the world. If the daughters of the
Church will be her glory in the chaste gen-
eration so highly praised by the Holy
Spirit, Christian mothers, by word and ex-
ample, in season and out of season, must
endeavor to eradicate the soul-destroying
evil of the modern immodest fashions.

These words have a manly ring, and
we hope they will have the desired effect.
His Grace deserves the hearty thanks of
all who are trying to avert what they re-
gard as one of the gravest dangers threat-
ening the morals of this country. Re-
form in matters of woman’s dress is im-
perative, and the sooner the movement
for reform is nationalized, the better for
the country. The Third Order of St.
Francis is a national organization, and the
members thereof are bound by their Rule
of life to observe moderation in dress.
What society, therefore, could be better
adapted to undertake this campaign
against indecent fashions than the Third
Order? In fact, we think that for these
reasons it is incumbent on them to do so.
We have at various times appealed to the
Directors and members of Third Order
fraternities tor take up this most laudable
reform work; but our appeals have gone
unheeded. Can it be that the Directors
and their charges are indifferent to the
widespread immorality superinduced by
the wanton and audacious styles displayed
by so many women ? We refuse to believe
it. But, if they are really concerned
about the spiritual welfare of their neigh-
bor, had they not better start something
to counteract the evil influence of the pre-
vailing fashions? The only thing for all
good Christian women to do, is to set
their faces resolutely against all extrava-
gance and indecency in dress by refusing
to wear any piece of clothing that does
not conform to the postulates of the
Christian modesty and by inducing others
to do the same. In this way, the shame-
less women will be driven under cover
and made to feel the impropriety of their
conduct. There are decent women enough
in every parish and community to make
their numbers felt, and it is their plain
duty to assert themselves.

Almost a year ago FRANCISCAN
HERALD established what it regarded as
a proper standard for woman’s dress and
embodied this standard in four points or
principles. We have since had these
principles, together with the Holy Fath-
er’s late appeal ‘ for modesty of dress,
printed on cards, which we shall mail, for
purposes of distribution, to all who are
interested in the matter of dress reform.
We have gone to considerable expense in
having these pledge cards printed, and
we hope there will be a sufficient demand
for them to justify the outlay on our part.
Let our readers remember that we shall
be glad to send these cards to anybody
that is willing to distribute them and en-
courage others to sign them.

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