MANILA — The “dress code” issued by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila was a mere “guideline” and “violators” will not be instantly ejected from church premises.
The archdiocese’s social communications director, Peachy Yamsuan, said the guidelines were issued so that the Catholic faithful — from the parish priest down to the ordinary parishioner – would be aware of the appropriate clothes for Mass and other church services.
“Asking those not dressed properly to step out of the Church would be un-Christian; on the other hand, making minute specifications such as how long a shirt or pair of pants should measure so as not to be considered indecent would be Pharisaic,” Yamsuan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview.
There would not be an “over-strict monitoring” of compliance with the proper attire as done in services in other religions, she added. “Violators” would not be sternly ordered to comply “under the pain of committing mortal sin,” she added.
She said the issuance of the guidelines by the Archdiocese’s Ministry for Liturgical Affairs has so far been well-received by both clergy and lay people. The proposal for a dress code actually came from church-goers themselves, she added.
Yamsuan said in some cases, the enforcement of the guidelines would be up to the parish priest and lay leaders. The guidelines should not be interpreted as a upholding conservatism in the manner of dressing, she added.
She said Fr. Godwin Tatlonghari, assistant minister for liturgical affairs, clarified to her that church laws did not specify the correct attire for a church-goers but reminded the faithful to be garbed in reverence, propriety and decency as befitting a liturgical celebration.
Yamsuan explained that some priests would refuse to give communion to improperly attired church-goer. But in churches where services are often crowded, the priest would hardly notice those improperly attired, she said.
In this case, Yamsuan said the reminder about the right attire should come from ushers, collectors, lectors and members and leaders of liturgical and religious lay groups participating in the service.
A woman wearing a spaghetti dress, a dress showing too much of her cleavage or any tight-fitting dress, should be given a warning to dress properly next time, Yamsuan said.
“When she goes up to receive holy communion, she may be given a shawl to cover herself by anybody in charge of the liturgical service or any concerned parishioner,” she added.
Yamsuan said the priest’s or the church-goers’ sentiments on the dress guidelines could be measured in chapels or churches inside subdivisions where some of the faithful would attend services wearing shorts and jogging pants and other church goers seeing them would not mind their attire.
The archdiocese covers the Manila, Mandaluyong, Pasay, Makati and San Juan.
Among those listed by the MLA as proper attire for going to mass were collared shirts or T-shirts, jeans or slacks, polo or long-sleeved shirts for men, and collared, long-sleeved blouses, dresses and long gowns for women. Corporate attire or office or school uniforms were also described as acceptable for church wear.
Clothes prohibited inside the church are caps, jerseys or undershirts and shorts for men, and spaghetti-strap or tank tops and other sleeveless blouses, plunging necklines and skimpy shorts and skirts for women.
Yamsuan said more emphasis should be placed on what should not be worn because even articles of clothing mentioned in the list could still be considered improper if for example, they are too tight, translucent or too brightly colored.