It’s more a matter of the heart than of the head – Catholic Philly



Father Kenneth Doyle

Q. Recently, I was “condemned” to wear a veil in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament – both when I am at Mass and during my hours of adoration in the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration in our parish. Several other women in the parish also felt led to do so.

However, I am told that some of these women have been “counseled” by our pastor that he does not want it and that he finds wearing the veil proud. As a child of course I wore a veil on my First Communion and even for a few years afterwards and never thought it was a pride. I would like your opinion. (Caroline from the south)

A. The custom of women wearing a veil in church finds a basis in the early days of the church, as reflected in chapter 11 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. This custom, however, may well have reflected the cultural prejudice of the time because the same chapter says: “For the man did not come from the woman, but the woman from the man; neither man was created for woman, but woman for man.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law (in # 1262) stipulated that men in church were to be bareheaded while women “were to have their heads covered”. (This same canon also said, “It is desirable that, in accordance with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.”)

But in 1976, an instruction issued by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith indicated that this 1917 directive was no longer in effect. (The CDF said: “It should be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the time, hardly concern more than disciplinary practices of less importance, such as the obligation imposed on women to wear the veil on the head. … Such requirements no longer have any normative value. ”)

In the current Code of Canon Law in force, published in 1983, the canon on the veil has not been reissued. So it is clear that women today do not have to cover their heads in church.

Does that mean they are not allowed to do this? Of course not. Within the limits of modesty, people are free to wear whatever they want – and the only one who can judge the motivation is the wearer.

If you use a mantilla, or a chapel veil, out of vanity – to draw attention to yourself – then it is wrong. But if you wear it as a sign of reverence, out of respect for the dignity of the Eucharist and our unworthiness before it, then it is a laudable choice. It is your call, left to your discretion in prayer.

Q. What is the church’s position on “destination marriages,” which may or may not be performed by a priest? If two Catholics in good standing and not previously married are married in such a non-religious ceremony, will the church accept this marriage? (Schenectady, New York)

A. My take on “destination weddings” (Cabo San Lucas seems the rage today) is that they are fraught with complications – both religious and civil.

To answer your question simply, two Catholics must be married by a Catholic priest or deacon. Sometimes an “exotic” wedding venue will assure a couple that the venue will find a member of the clergy to officiate, but it is always uncertain whether it will be a Catholic priest or a deacon in good standing. (More often than not, it will not be Catholic at all.)

In addition, this involves obtaining the appropriate license from a foreign municipal authority and ensuring that the marriage will be recognized in the United States. On more than one occasion in the recent past, I have persuaded Catholic couples desirous of a destination wedding to marry in advance in a quiet ceremony in our parish church with me as officiant and with a license. of our own town hall.

After that, they can go and party in the tropics with their friends and family, confident that their marriage is recognized as official by church and state.


Questions can be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at [email protected] and 40 Hopewell St. Albany, NY 12208.



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