Archbishop Nicholas Chia has sent a document to all priests on the topic of dressing in church.
“Rather than proposing a ‘dress code’,” said the archbishop in an accompanying letter, the document “aims at giving a description of the spirit conducive to worship, providing a welcoming note, and avoiding any prohibitive language”.
In his letter, dated June 25, he urged priests to remove “without delay” all “prohibitive posters … since they give the impression of the Church being unwelcoming”.
The document, approved by the Senate of Priests in April, is as follows:
Dressing for Church
Lately there has been much discussion about what is appropriate dressing for Mass.
This statement is not comprehensive and aims purely to put the right spirit into the sometimes acrimonious discussions that have unfortunately infected what should be a level headed discourse.
The Catholic Church is a universal Church embracing all peoples, cultures and nations. The Catholic community is an inclusive and welcoming community, loving God and neighbour, and striving to offer God fitting worship at what is our most precious gift from Our Lord, the Sunday Eucharist.
Recent episodes make a timely reminder for us to reexamine our approach to how to dress appropriately for an event that is central to our Christian life; the Sunday Eucharist.
How we choose to dress may express our own understanding and values about how we approach the Eucharist.
How we dress also affects those around us as we belong to a community and worship as a community, and there is a level of decorum that is expected of everyone who would like to participate at such great a mystery that has been handed down to us as a lasting heritage of the Christian faith.
We live in a society of diverse religious beliefs and we also observe favourably how people of other faiths dress and behave when they are in their places of worship. This corporate behaviour is uplifting to the observer and encourages one to recognise the respect that they accord to their worship.
Without wanting to legislate for the minute details of attire at our Sunday worship, we encourage every Catholic to reconsider how he or she dresses for the Sunday Eucharist.
Let the sole criteria be that it is our response to being present at a sacred celebration where Our Lord is present; nourishing and sustaining us at the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist.
May we enter into worship with our hearts and minds fully engaged in this moment of adoration with our fellow brothers and sisters.