Our Lady of Fatima Stressed
Modesty in Dress
Mother Teresa, a model of modesty and womanhood shows by her life that 'a virtuous life is the best adornment for women' (1 Tim. 2:10). In Rome, on December 4, 1985, she graciously accepted different issues of The Fatima Crusader and was interested to learn from Father Gruner the findings of the International Fatima Rosary Crusade Symposium regarding the urgent need to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her order is dedicated to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart.
GIVE US GUIDELINES ON MODESTY
In December, 1985, we received a letter from Joseph B. of New
York asking us to get the Vatican to supply guidelines on Modesty in Dress. His
"Dear Father Gruner,
"Three times this year I have
written to the Vatican to obtain information on the subject MODESTY. Twice I
wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger and once (recently) to Pope John Paul II. In these
letters I asked for booklets, history, documents, etc. in which MODESTY would
be fully explained. I have not received an answer at all.
"I ask you Father Gruner, could you somehow get the Vatican to
supply this material to me? Please. You know that at Fatima, MODESTY was very
much stressed by the Blessed Virgin Mary. She said that She wanted people to
"All this year I've been asking everyone possible about the
subject MODESTY - but no one seems to know or care. There has to be detailed
information on MODESTY, since THE MOTHER OF GOD WOULD NOT TELL US TO DRESS
MODESTLY IF THERE WERE NO GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW.
It is with apprehension that we reply to this request. Today we
know that there is much opposition from some laypeople and even from some
bishops to teaching the Catholic Doctrine regarding Modesty in Dress. The
Vatican has in the past given clear guidelines regarding Modesty in Dress.
It is perhaps because there has been widespread opposition and
disobedience to these guidelines that the Vatican refuses to come out with a
God allows us to be punished by the silence of the Magisterium
today for the sins of not obeying the Magisterium when it spoke up. Just as
God, as punishment, did not send more prophets to the people of the Old
Testament after the people had killed and rejected many of the prophets He had
already sent to them.
If anyone wants the last clear statement of guidelines from the
Vatican and Church authorities, they can obtain it from the International
Fatima Rosary Crusade offices - ask for the Modesty in Dress leaflet. The
essential guidelines that the Vatican gave in this matter is summed up in the
one paragraph which we here quote:
"A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two
fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at
least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore,
dresses of transparent materials are improper."
Following this guideline as well as special guidance from
Heaven, Padre Pio the stigmatic priest who bore the bleeding wounds of Christ
on his own body from 1918 until his death in 1968 refused time and again to
absolve any woman, no matter how important she was, who did not wear her skirts
well below the knee. He also insisted that they do not wear slacks. Yet this
guideline, due to ignorance, prejudice, enslavement to vanity or passion has
been combated so much.
Over six years ago, even two bishops temporarily entered the
fight. They felt compelled to persecute The Fatima Crusader in 1979 for
publishing this material. One of these bishops, several years later before his
death, seemed more disposed to hear the truth.
Thus we hope you will understand why today many priests do not
want to talk about this subject. But for Our Lady of Fatima and for the
salvation of souls we shall here attempt to explain the matter more fully.
We agree that Joseph B. poses an important question. One that is
very important because if it is not properly answered it can lead to the loss
of immortal souls. These souls are of infinite worth because Jesus Christ paid
for them with the shedding of His Most Precious Blood. Immodesty in Dress, if
gravely offensive would be a mortal sin for the wearer and it is an occasion of
sin for the beholder of immodest fashions. So that immodest fashions alone send
to Hell, or at least make worthy of Hell's fire, the souls of many of those who
see these fashions.
Our Lady at Fatima lamented that in our times the Militant
Atheists, that is the Communists and their associates in our own country would
spread their errors against our Christian Catholic faith and morals. Our Lady
said, "Russia will spread her errors throughout the world." She also said,
"Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend My Son very much."
The Blessed Virgin Mary also tells us at Fatima that "more souls
go to hell for sins of the flesh than any other reason".
There are a number of sins against purity that Our Lady was
referring to and there is need for clear teaching that only persons who are
married may have procreative relations. All others may not use or even give
their consent to any pleasure attached to the procreative faculties. Nor may
these faculties be voluntarily aroused except in marriage. This is because the
power of begetting children is a sacred trust that God has given to men and
women to be used only according to His laws.
As Creator of each one of us as well as Creator of each child's
immortal soul He has a right to demand we obey Him. These matters were
explained in a general way in The Fatima Crusader: Issue No. 15, "The Meaning of Christian Chastity", by
Father Pelagia, S.T.D. It is because these sins against holy purity are
particularly prevalent today causing many souls to go to hell that we here
publish Father Pelagia's article on Modesty in Dress and in answer to Joseph B.
and many other people's requests.
To help you more fully understand Father Pelagia's explanation
given below, some background Theology would be useful. It is because of
original sin that every man, woman and child experiences difficulty in
controlling some of his appetites, even when he knows by his reason it is in
his own best interests to do so.
For example, everyone might recall eating just a little too much
after his reason and senses tell him that he has already had enough. Others
have felt the desire for more alcohol to drink, or cigarettes to smoke even
though they know that any more is not good for them. The appetites then like
the appetites for food and drink, clearly want to "do their own thing" even
when it is bad for the person who is the owner of that appetite.
We do not always have direct control over how our sense
appetites feel. We can control them by Christian mortification as well as by
other indirect methods. For example, by not keeping our mind's attention
focused on food, drink or tobacco, we can the more easily not give in to the
sin of gluttony. If we continue to dwell on food or drink or the pleasure they
give us then inevitably we shall give in to our appetites even against our
Since Original Sin, this appetite for sex, the procreative
faculty's appetite in all men and women is also not always subject to direct
control of the will and intellect.
This appetite is also controlled indirectly by the mortification
of fasting and abstinence, as well as by not dwelling upon certain creatures
that would tend to awaken a desire in this appetite. Because this appetite is
so powerful (God made it that way in order to ensure the continuation of the
human race) it does not take much to arouse the desire of the procreative
faculty. Because of the different nature of men and women, it is generally true
that men's sexual desire is more easily aroused.
It is by seeing persons of the opposite sex immodestly dressed
that persons, especially men, find that their appetite for use of the
procreative faculty is drawing them to exercise this faculty. This can happen
even when it is against the Law of God, and, therefore bad for the person. That
is when this appetite is not directed towards one's marriage partner, and if it
is, after sufficient reflection fully consented to, then that person has
thereby committed a mortal sin.
If this sin is not repented, it would eventually drag that soul
to hell for eternity.
Therefore, as a result of this weakness that our brothers and
sisters experience as a result of original sin, we must safeguard their virtue
by dressing modestly. Both men and women are obliged to dress modestly in
strict justice and charity. To offend in this matter is often a mortal sin.
Because of the differences in psychology between men and women
it is usually the case that the devil and the militant atheists try to get
women to dress immodestly. By this strategy the devil and his followers often
succeed in causing men and women to fall into hell. This they achieve by having
men mortally sin by their eyes and impure desires and actions. This also causes
men to be enslaved on earth by the militant atheists as is explained in the
booklet Our Lady's Urgent Appeal. The women are sent to hell for having
caused the men to sin by their immodest manner of clothing. They, too, thereby
give the Communists and other militant atheists the greater possibility of
enslaving the free world.
It is a mistake to read into this concern for modesty as somehow
being anti-women. Both men and women are bound by the law of modesty. However,
it is much more common for the sin of immodesty to be committed by women, that
is why Father Pelegia outlines the obligation of women in this regard. Men,
too, must be concerned about this virtue. And if they should feel that their
clothes are too tight or immodest in any other way, they too must be more
modest so as to not be the occasion whereby anyone of their sisters in Christ
should lose their souls by unlawful desires being aroused.
With this background we should appreciate the clarifying article
of Father Pelagia, a Doctor of Sacred Theology. He is a Catholic priest who has
for more than 20 years studied the moral theology of St. Alphonsus Liguori. St.
Alphonsus has been proclaimed Doctor of the Church in Moral Theology by the
Magisterium of the Church. Father's article starts immediately below.
A sound guide for girls and women who want to know what good
authorities in the Catholic Church have to say about modesty in dress, is the
program of the Mary-like Crusade.
For many years until his death in 1969 Father Bernard Kunkel of
the diocese of Belleville, Illinois, U.S.A., was Director of the Crusade, his
bishop being the President. Followers of the Crusade pledge themselves to
observe the norms contained in A Girl's Modesty Guide, which we here print:
IN RESPONSE TO THE PLEA OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA FOR ABSOLUTE
MODESTY IN DRESS AND TO HELP PREVENT THE COUNTLESS SINS CAUSED BY IMMODEST
DRESS, ESPECIALLY IN THE SUMMER TIME, I SHALL EARNESTLY STRIVE TO CARRY OUT
1. To refrain entirely from wearing "shorts" of any type,
whether at home or in public.
2. To refuse to wear other types of scanty wear, including such
things as sun-suits, and such outfits that expose the shoulders, breast, back,
or midriff; likewise to avoid sheer or transparent outfits, tight dresses,
tight sweaters, and tight slacks; and to wear only such skirts that go
sufficiently below the knees to safeguard modesty in all normal postures and
3. To limit my necessary recreational or work garb only to such
pants-type garments that reach below the knees and are not tight - preferably
full-length ample slacks.
4. To be particularly careful to dress modestly and respectfully
for church, and for all sacred services and sacred places, including parish
grounds; to encourage others always to dress with Mary-like modesty, without
fear of being "unpopular"; to follow the wishes of Our Immaculate Lady rather
than the decrees of pagan fashion dictators.
REMEMBER: Modesty in dress helps safeguard the virtue of purity
and is demanded by the moral law of God. The above norms are based on this
unchangeable moral law and on Christian tradition. Immodest dress is immoral
and sinful, and is a matter of confession. We have reason to believe that many
souls are now in hell because of the thoughtlessness of girls who dress
immodestly. Out of love for Christ and His Immaculate Mother, and for the sake
of others who are struggling to be pure, PLEASE DRESS MODESTLY!
Father Bruno Pelagia;
Catholic Priest, Theologian
of Sacred Theology
We are glad to see here and there ladies and girls who do not
need to be told in order to follow these norms. But as for those who stray away
from such wise norms, I, as God's minister, ask them to heed my plea:
YOU CANNOT MAINTAIN AN UPRIGHT, UNSEARED CONSCIENCE, AND BE SO
Do not say, What evil is there in the way I dress?
For would that not be a naive question? You must suspect that
exposing a woman's body as you do can be terribly provocative.
Do not say, Those who see me this way are not forced to
For we admit that. But should we not wish to reduce the offenses
our Divine Lord receives when we can? Woe to us if we are indifferent about
this! Woe to us if, from this indifference, our conduct coaxes others into sin!
We know that some good men will so successfully resist any woman's
provocativeness that they will not sin in the least, but will gain merit.
However, some others, being weak, will consent to what is forbidden; and
according to the Scriptures, you will share in their sin for unnecessarily
giving them a lure to it. (Matt. 18:7)
Do not say, All the other girls dress this way!
For we admit the sad fact that many are that thoughtless. But
even if all were so thoughtless, you should not follow such an example. You
consider yourself capable of making wise decisions of your own in personal
matters. Seeing that you have the freedom, the privilege, and the duty to
pursue virtue and heaven, would you unthinkingly follow the herd like sheep do?
"Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that
leadeth to destruction: and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the
gate and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find
it!" (Matt. 7:13-14). Let a sense of responsibility and uprightness distinguish
you from the herd.
Do not say, I do not mean to do evil.
For I can believe that. But the mischief you are doing by
dressing without due care of the consequences is an evil you will be
Do not say, I feel I should be in style and up-to-date.
For there are good women and girls who, using a bit of
resourcefulness, manage to dress with a modest attractiveness and charm. But
beware of a style which, luring men toward corrupt morals, serves only vanity
and the devil; for it is a tragic deception. No matter how styles change and
popular tastes change, the moral law does not change.
Do not say, Often it is hard to judge if a dress is modest
Reflect: If you suspect that a dish of food is poisoned, you do
not serve it to anyone, for fear of doing harm. Even more so should you not
wisely play safe when you have any prudent suspicion that your manner of dress
will be a source of harm? Does not an upright conscience look upon sin as the
greatest of harms?
Do not say, I refuse to be a bigot and a hypocrite!
For how can it be wrong to act upon an upright conscience, which
tells you that an offense against the all-holy God is truly the greatest of
evils? A bigot and a hypocrite is one who pretends to hate sin and love God
when he does not really care about these things. But I ask you to care, and how
is that wrong? Uprightness, which at times requires sweat and tears and
courage, is never the same as bigotry and hypocrisy. And the Saints who fought
valiantly against immodesty, were they bigots or hypocrites?
Do not say, Men want me this way.
That may be true of men who prefer a bit of pleasure to God's
friendship; but it is not true of men who live by a right conscience.
Furthermore, it is to God that you must one day render an account, not to men.
Do not say, Beauty is supposed to be seen.
I could reply that "When bodily beauty is shown off a great
deal, it loses its loveliness." But there is a physical beauty that cannot be
displayed without becoming a lure to tempt men to forbidden satisfactions. On
the other hand, if you thought that there was beauty in displaying your legs,
why is there not beauty in showing Christian modesty and a concern for the good
Do not say, But I feel hot!
You know how to put up with the heat when you want to. Surely a
good conscience is worth suffering a bit of heat for. Many good souls bear the
heat willingly in order to offer it as a penance to God. But - sad to say -
some women in hot weather go scantily clad to Mass and other church gatherings
who dress modestly when they must work in an office where they receive all
kinds of clients, or when they must teach school, or when they must work as
salesclerks where they have to satisfy all kinds of customers.
Do not say, There are bigger problems and bigger sins than
Yes. Some sins are worse than others (John 19:11). But even the
less grave ones are real sins. One need not be a hunted outlaw in order to go
to hell. And I have the strongest objections to seeing you go there. I will go
there myself if I do not try to keep others from going there.
YOUNG LADY, LET NOTHING CHEAT YOU OUT OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE
AND YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY!
If you want to be Christian in fact and not just in name, if you
want to help and not hinder the work of grace to reform consciences, if you do
not want to feel remorse tomorrow and bear a weight of guilt, then put forth
the effort to dress with Mary-like modesty,
... so that you may prove yourself a Christian woman and not a
... so that you uplift and inspire chaste love, and not enkindle
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