Ask an Apostle: A parishioner keeps dressing inappropriately for Mass

Teresa Coda answers your questions this week.
Catholic Voices

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Q: There’s a woman in my church who often comes to Mass wearing low-cut shirts and short shorts. Can I tell her she’s being disrespectful to the Lord and to the other worshippers? 

–Fashion police

A: In a word: No. 


In a few more words: How can you be so sure that our merciful and gracious God is offended by the body of a woman God lovingly created?

In even more words: Is it the responsibility of one person to dress in a way that makes others feel respected, or the responsibility of everyone else to focus less on the apparel choices—and to be clear, these are choices that do no actual harm—of others and more on, say, the Mass readings, or the presence of God in the people around them?

Forgive me if I seem rude or unsympathetic to your troubles. But there is a name for the attitudes and behaviors that place the onus on women (and others too, but mostly women) to appease the sensibilities of everyone around them to avoid, at best, judgment, and at worst, physical and spiritually violent crimes like assault and harassment. It’s called rape culture, and I don’t want anything to do with it.  

About the author

Teresa Coda

Teresa Coda works in parish faith formation. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young daughters.

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