Christian modesty a vital virtue in today’s world

I found the different approaches of the two articles in the Aug. 21 issue — “Church dress codes call for more modesty at Mass” (News Analysis) and “A modest suggestion” (Editorial) — rather remarkable. 

While there is some truth in the adage that the interior is more important than the exterior, it is also true that the exterior is an expression of the interior. It is pretty obvious these days that even Catholics have lost the sense of the Christian virtue of modesty. Considering that even parishioners these days chide their pastor for asking them to show more respect in their manner of dress in God’s house of prayer, it even seems modesty has fallen into a kind of disrepute! We fool only ourselves. It is not for nothing that Jesus said: “Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” (Mt 18:7).  

There’s no denying that today we live in a highly promiscuous and permissive culture. Christian modesty is as important a virtue today as it was in the early Church — perhaps even more important, considering the scanty and suggestive apparel “in style” these days. We who call ourselves Catholic would do well to heed St. Paul: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2). 

— Pam Haines, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Fed up with immodesty

Whoever wrote the editorial “A modest suggestion” (Aug. 21) did not read the etiquette article on Page 6 of the same issue (“Church dress codes call for more modesty at Mass”), Teresa Tomeo’s column (“Our own worst enemy”), the Catechism of the Catholic Church or Leviticus. 

There is a great deal of difference between casual dress and plunging necklines, vulgar tank tops, etc., that we see in our churches. There is such a thing as modesty and chastity. 

As an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, I don’t especially want to look down low-cut tops to see someone’s navel, among other anatomical parts. I do thank God that they are in my line, rather than in the priest’s line. 

Brendan F. O’Connor, Staten Island, N.Y. 

Holy respect

After reading “A modest suggestion” (Editorial, Aug. 21) about wearing apparel at the celebration of Mass, I have but one question. 

If all of you had a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI, how would you dress? Shouldn’t that evident answer also apply to our Sunday and daily private audiences with Christ, who is sitting in the tabernacle waiting to speak with us? 

It is called “holy respect,” remember? 

— Bill Bandle, Manchester, Mo.

Define ‘comprehensive’

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles believes that the United States should have “comprehensive immigration reform” (“Catholics can lead way in immigration debate,” Aug. 28).  

According to the dictionary “comprehensive” means “covering completely or broadly.” I’d like the archbishop to name some countries that have the proper “comprehensive reform” that the United States should pattern itself after. 

Outside of open borders, I don’t see what changes the United States could make in its immigration laws. The archbishop’s article states that Catholic teaching recognizes the sovereignty of nations to secure their borders, and that is what most countries do. 

— John F. Mangan, Chicago, Ill.

Both sides need work

Both David Tomko and Thomas Doyle make excellent points (Letters to the Editor, Aug. 14, responding to “Social teaching and the federal budget: a Catholic politician’s view,” July 17).  

As Tomko says, the Republicans do need to be more sensitive to the needs of the poor, disabled, senior citizens and the unemployed. But Doyle is correct that the Democrats can’t expect the government to do everything for everyone, and that individual charity is vital. 

I was a registered Democrat for 30 years. I became a registered Independent in 2009, dissatisfied with both parties.  

I rejected the Democrats because their platform is vehemently pro-choice (even now threatening the mission of health care providers, Catholic and otherwise, who oppose abortion) and because of their pro-same-sex marriage stand.  

Yet, while I commend the Republican Party for its pro-life, anti-same-sex marriage stand, I strongly oppose capital punishment. As one who has worked with disabled people for 30 years (from special ed teacher to in-home health care aide), I believe the Republicans need to fund social programs for these and other vulnerable people. 

It’s a tough situation (balancing the budget, protecting human life from the womb to the tomb), but we can only hope that leaders emerge who can do both. 

Tim Donovan, Folsom Pa.

Incorrect term

The sidebar to “Why are prominent pro-lifers swimming the Tiber?” (News Analysis, Aug. 14) referred to the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson as a former “Jewish atheist.” 

Jewish people are a religious people, the founding leaders of our Catholic faith. The term is insulting to the Jewish people and historically incorrect. 

Edward J. Dwyer, Johnson City, Tenn.