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The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children
I offer the first installment of a three-part series examining (1) the impact of parental alienation on children, (2) the effects of parental alienation on parents, and (3) programs, services and interventions that combat alienation and seek to reunite estranged parents and their children.
What children of divorce most want and need is to maintain healthy and strong relationships with both of their parents, and to be shielded from their parents' conflicts. Some parents, however, in an effort to bolster their parental identity, create an expectation that children choose sides. In more extreme situations, they foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In the most extreme cases, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, despite children’s innate desire to love and be loved by both their parents.
Parental alienation involves the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other “targeted” parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child's relationship with that parent, and is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child. Such denigration results in the child’s emotional rejection of the targeted parent, and the loss of a capable and loving parent from the life of the child. Psychiatrist Richard Gardner developed the concept of "parental alienation syndrome" 20 years ago, defining it as, "a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent." Children’s views of the targeted parent are almost exclusively negative, to the point that the parent is demonized and seen as evil.
As Amy Baker writes, parental alienation involves a set of strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent), forcing the child to reject the other parent, creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose between the parents by means of threats of withdrawal of affection, and belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent. In my own research on non-custodial parents who have become disengaged from their children’s lives (Kruk, 2011), I found that most lost contact involuntarily, many as a result of parental alienation. Constructive alternatives to adversarial methods of reconnecting with their children were rarely available to these alienated parents.
Parental alienation is more common than is often assumed: Fidler and Bala (2010) report both an increasing incidence and increased judicial findings of parental alienation; they report estimates of parental alienation in 11-15% of divorces involving children; Bernet et al (2010) estimate that about 1% of children and adolescents in North America experience parental alienation.
There is now scholarly consensus that severe alienation is abusive to children (Fidler and Bala, 2010), and it is a largely overlooked form of child abuse (Bernet et al, 2010), as child welfare and divorce practitioners are often unaware of or minimize its extent. As reported by adult children of divorce, the tactics of alienating parents are tantamount to extreme psychological maltreatment of children, including spurning, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting or exploiting, and denying emotional responsiveness (Baker, 2010). For the child, parental alienation is a serious mental condition, based on a false belief that the alienated parent is a dangerous and unworthy parent. The severe effects of parental alienation on children are well-documented; low self esteem and self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, and substance abuse and other forms of addiction are widespread, as children lose the capacity to give and accept love from a parent. Self-hatred is particularly disturbing among affected children, as children internalize the hatred targeted toward the alienated parent, are led to believe that the alienated parent did not love or want them, and experience severe guilt related to betraying the alienated parent. Their depression is rooted is feelings of being unloved by one of their parents, and from separation from that parent, while being denied the opportunity to mourn the loss of the parent, or to even talk about the parent. Alienated children typically have conflicted or distant relationships with the alienating parent also, and are at high risk of becoming alienated from their own children; Baker reports that fully half of the respondents in her study of adult children who had experienced alienation as children were alienated from their own children.
Every child has a fundamental right and need for an unthreatened and loving relationship with both parents, and to be denied that right by one parent, without sufficient justification such as abuse or neglect, is in itself a form of child abuse. Since it is the child who is being violated by a parent's alienating behaviors, it is the child who is being alienated from the other parent. Children who have undergone forced separation from one of their parents in the absence of abuse, including cases of parental alienation, are highly subject to post-traumatic stress, and reunification efforts in these cases should proceed carefully and with sensitivity (research has shown that many alienated children can transform quickly from refusing or staunchly resisting the rejected parent to being able to show and receive love from that parent, followed by an equally swift shift back to the alienated position when back in the orbit of the alienating parent; alienated children seem to have a secret wish for someone to call their bluff, compelling them to reconnect with the parent they claim to hate). While children’s stated wishes regarding parental contact in contested custody should be considered, they should not be determinative, especially in suspected cases of alienation.
Hatred is not an emotion that comes naturally to a child; it has to be taught. A parent who would teach a child to hate or fear the other parent represents a grave and persistent danger to the mental and emotional health of that child. Alienated children are no less damaged than other child victims of extreme conflict, such as child soldiers and other abducted children, who identify with their tormentors to avoid pain and maintain a relationship with them, however abusive that relationship may be.
In the second installment on parental alienation, I will examine the effects of parental alienation on targeted parents, and suggest a range of strategies for preventing and intervening in these cases in the third.
In 1921, the Church spoke out strongly against immodest fashions. At that time Pope Benedict XV, in his encyclical, "Sacra Propediem" stated:
"... one cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and condition; made foolish by desire to please, they do not see to what a degree the in decency of their clothing shocks every honest man, and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for those toilettes as for a grave fault against Christian modesty; now it does not suffice for them to exhibit them on the public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of the churches, to assist at the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table where one receives the heavenly Author of purity. And We speak not of those nd barbarous dances recently imported into fashionable circles, one more shocking than the other; one cannot imagine anything more suitable for banishing all the remains of modesty." [Par. 19]
"In what concerns specially the Tertiary Sisters, We ask of them by their dress and manner of wearing it, to be models of holy modesty for other ladies and young girls; that they be thoroughly convinced that the best way for them to be of use to the Church and to Society is to labor for the improvement of morals." [Par. 21]
For over twenty-five years the late Father Bernard Kunkel, who died in 1969 and who was the pastor of St. Cecilia's in Bartelso, Illinois, waged an almost impossible fight for purity and modesty [scroll down]. Even then the customary clothing was indecent. Here are some some of the things he wrote in 1969 issues of Divine Love magazine and in an issue of the 1957 Marylike Crusader:
"One of the strange phenomena of history is the fact that the Devil has succeeded so well in keeping concealed the existence of the corrupting Body of Satan, with its long-range program for the destruction of the Church. Catholics just do not seem to be aware that, as soon as Christ instituted His Church---His Mystical Body---the Devil likewise organized his anti-church, his corrupting body. St. Augustine, St. John, St. Paul and other Saints have referred to it, as well as Pope Leo XIII and other Church leaders. The corrupting body of Satan still exists in our time and is very well organized in its efforts to use the modem fashions, filthy literature, indecent movies, pagan TV shows, drugs, drink, etc. to break down morality among Catholics in order eventually to destroy the Church and Christianity. Its most effective weapon was to be corruption from within.
"Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been able to use the weapon of impurity very effectively In the 16th century he used as his tools the founders of the two Parent-Protestant religions in Germany and England, Martin Luther and King Henry VIII. The first founder entered a sacrilegious marriage, the second an adulterous one. Our Mother Most Chaste being dethroned from their hearts, there was no other logical course for them, than to exile Her from their man-made churches and from the hearts of their millions of followers. But the devil could not hope to corrupt completely Christ's Mystical Body, the Catholic Church, unless he could first succeed in dethroning Mary, the Mother Most Chaste, from the hearts of Catholics.
"Our Blessed Mother, in all Her apparitions, is fully covered. At Fatima in 1917 she appeared in a world that was beginning to cut sleeves and necklines and to curtail skirts. Shouldn't she, the model for girls also in the 20th century, show some signs of following the modern trend? True, as Heavenly Queen, she is attired in queenly robes. Even so, she could do a little cutting on the sleeves, neckline and skirt. Why so determined to cling to the traditional standards? Why doesn't she give the modern girl a break, and give some sign that she approves a little cutting here and there?
"The answer is, because she does not approve of the modern trend of uncovering those parts of the body as the chest, upper arms, shoulders, and the thighs. She disapproves. In fact, she came down from Heaven to earth to warn against this disrobing trend. Listen to what she revealed to little ten year old Jacinta of Fatima, while Jacinta lay dying in a hospital in Lisbon, Portugal in 1920: 'Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend Our Divine Lord very much. Those who serve God ought not to follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same.' And she also revealed to Jacinta that 'the sins that lead most souls to hell are the sins of the flesh.'
"The devil seeks, therefore, to destroy that veneration which the faithful have always paid to Mary's chaste and virginal Body through which Christ entered this world. For centuries he has sought to find a way to remove Mary as their perfect model of chastity and modesty. Only then could he hope to bring about that mass corruption which might lead Catholics to his 'world religion'---the impure worship of the body and unrestrained sex gratification.
"This is apparently what Satan attempted through his agents, the powers of corruption, during the French Revolution. For, on Dec. 10, 1793 an angry mob rushed into the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, seized the statue of the Blessed Virgin on the altar, and dashed it to the floor. Hatred against the Mother of God? Quite evidently. But their hatred was directed chiefly against the Virgin with modest attire, the model of purity and modesty. This is clear from their subsequent action of enthroning on the altar in Mary's place a nude woman, the Goddess of Reason.' To this day Paris remains the capital of the semi-nude fashion world.
"But why should women be the first victim of the Devil's plot? Because women have a much more delicate sense of modesty, and that is exactly why the devil strives first to destroy this feminine sense of modesty which makes womanhood the guardian of chastity in the world.
"Even with the success of the French Revolution, the demon of lust was too cunning to reveal immediately his full program of moral destruction to be carried out by his human agents. To escape detection, he must develop it gradually. Had the entire program been unfolded at once, Christian women would have risen up in open rebellion. Yet, long before feminine gowns became modem'. a portion of this secret, graduated, program was disclosed by a French paper, 'The French Woman' as follows: 'Our children must realize the ideal of nakedness... Thus the mentality of the child is rapidly transformed. To escape opposition, progress must be methodically graduated; first, feet and legs naked; then, upturned sleeves; afterwards the upper and lower limbs; the upper part of the chest; the back; ...in summer the children will go around almost naked.'
"In other words, applying this to our day, keep the children in sun suits, or next to nothing, as long as possible, that becoming accustomed to this, they will see nothing wrong with exposing the body later on. Make the blouses sheerer year after year; the sweaters and jeans tighter; the shorts, shorter; the daytime dresses, sleeveless; the formals, strapless or with thin straps at best; the bathing suits more daring; all with the idea that the fashions should reveal as much as possible, rather than conceal. Who but the Devil could devise such a clever scheme, knowing the inevitable result that would follow because of fallen human nature caused by original sin?
"This plan was published many years ago, but we see from the current fashions how modern women have fallen for it, including many Catholics. Since it was done so gradually, without their being aware of any organized program, is it any wonder our young girls ask, 'What's wrong with the modem fashions?' Having been reared in them, many from the time they were children, they see nothing wrong with them, nor the dangers to themselves or to others.
"In 1846, the Pontifical Government of Italy, under Pope Gregory XVI, seized secret documents from the Communists of that day These documents the Pope sent to Cretinau-Joly, who published them in French in 1875 with the approval of Pope Pius IX. One of these documents is most revealing: 'It has been decided in our councils that we must get rid of Catholics, but we do not want to make Martyrs, so let us strive to popularize vice among the people. It must enter by their five senses: Let them drink it in and be saturated with it ... make men's hearts corrupt and you will have no more Catholics. I recently heard one of our friends making fun of our projects and saying, 'To overthrow Catholicism, you must begin by suppressing the female sex.' The saying is, in a certain sense, true, but since we cannot suppress woman, let us corrupt her along with the Church ... The best dagger with which to wound the Church to death, is corruption.'
"Our young people are great imitators. They like to 'follow the crowd.' This is fine so long as the crowd is going in the right direction. Otherwise, it can lead to serious trouble, especially in the matter of fashions. Too many teenagers say: 'Everybody else does it, so why can't we?' If everybody else jumped in front of a fast moving train, would you do the same? Because' everybody else does it' is no reason for us to do wrong. There is no security in numbers. What was wrong centuries ago as far as sin is concerned, is still wrong today. God made no special provisions for the 20th century. If 99 people do wrong because 'everybody else does it,' God will punish the 99 and reward the 1 that follows Him. This was proven at the time of the deluge, when he destroyed all, save Noah and his family. Our Holy Father Pope Pius XII has stated repeatedly: 'The greatest sin of our modern generation is that it has lost all sense of sin.' This is true particularly in regard to fashions, and the virtue of purity."
It was on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1944, that Father Kunkel initiated the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate with the Episcopal Blessing of his Bishop, the late Most Reverend Henry Althoff. Pope Pius XII imparted his Apostolic Blessing to this Purity Crusade on July 14, 1954, and again on May 11, 1955 "to the members, to their Directors and Moderators, to their families and loved ones, and to all who further their laudable movement for modesty in dress and behavior."
Another voice to speak out strongly against the immodest fashions was that of the late Archbishop Albert G. Meyer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin who, on May 1, 1956, wrote a Pastoral Letter to the Clergy, Religious, and Faithful Laity of his Archdiocese on the subject of Modesty and Decency. We are going to quote at length from his Pastoral Letter, as he not only discusses the problem, but also speaks of the effects, and recommends remedies.
I. SUBJECT MATTER OF THIS PASTORAL
"In the desire to fulfill the charge given to us as your pastor, whose duty it is to protect his flock against the enemy, and as an appointed watchman of God, who must speak out in clear and explicit warnings, lest the sins of those who err be charged to his account (Ezech. 33:8-9), we have decided to address this letter to you. In this letter, it is our thought to consider the general subject of Decency ...
"We are impelled to do this as we recall some of the recent forceful statements of our Holy Father (Pope Pius XII)... particularly a special letter which he commanded to be written on this subject through the Sacred Congregation of the Council, under date of August 15, 1954. In this letter the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation, writing in the name of the Sovereign Pontiff, solemnly charged the Bishops of the world' by all means to consider the matter carefully, and to take under your care and promote with all your power everything which has to do with the protection of modesty and the furtherance of Christian morals ...'
II. THE PROBLEM
"One phase of this problem in the moral crisis was described in the 8/15/54 letter ...: 'Everyone knows that during the summer months particularly, things are seen here and there which are certain to prove offensive to anyone who has retained some respect and regard for Christian virtue and human modesty... Almost everywhere, on the streets of cities and towns, in private and public places, and, indeed, often even in buildings dedicated to God, an unworthy and indecent mode of dress has prevailed... Feminine clothing, if that can be called clothing which contains nothing to protect either the body or modesty, is at times of such a nature that it seems to serve lewdness rather than modesty.'
"This problem is referred to from another viewpoint in the annual statement of the American Bishops of 1953, on the general subject of the Dignity of Man, in the following words:
'Heedless that his nature has God for its origin and destiny, and reason and revelation for its divinely commissioned guide, man will do what no other creature can---he will deny his true nature and will destroy all that is good within himself. Such a process of degradation is viciously at work in our own country, where the deification of the flesh continues to enlist new devotees. Through the liturgy of advertisement, entertainment and literature, this cult bids fair to corrode our national sense of decency... The Catholic Church has never failed to accord the human body an immense measure of honor. She affirms that it was originally created by God; in one instance actually assumed by Him; in every instance meant to be on earth His special temple, and destined eventually to rejoin the soul in His Beatific Presence.
Whatever is uncompromising in her teaching about the human body stems from her realism on two points: The body, though good, is not the highest good; and the undisciplined body is notoriously bad.'
III. THE VIRTUE OF CHASTITY
"We cannot, Dearly Beloved, write intelligently about the virtue of modesty, unless we emphasize first of all the universal importance of purity. F or, modesty, by its very definition, is looked upon as the shield and safeguard of purity. The breakdown in modesty is due fundamentally to a disregard of the virtue of purity as a necessary virtue for all, in all the circumstances of life. Hence, we would like to explain briefly three teachings of our holy Faith, which impose a corresponding obligation upon us:
"The first teaching of our Faith is that the law of purity is imposed on every human being. It binds him in public and in private, in marriage and outside of marriage, in youth and in old age .It is one of the serious laws that God has made, which means that it is one on which the salvation of our soul depends. It is quite obvious that this law of purity forbids the evil deed (Do you not know that neither fornicators, nor adulterers will possess the kingdom of God?' 1 Cor. 6:9-10), and the evil word (But immorality and every uncleanness, let it not even be named among you.' (Eph. 5:3). The same law of purity equally forbids the unchaste thought and the unchaste desire (I say to you that anyone who even looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' (Matthew 5:28). Impurity, therefore, in thought and desire, as well as in word and in deed, is a serious violation of a law established by God Himself And it is seriously wrong precisely and primarily because it transgresses the law of God. Moreover, the external act is merely the fruit of the internal thought and desire. It is this internal thought and desire which is the source of the external act Out of the heart come evil thoughts, adulteries, immorality, blasphemies.' (Matt. 15:19).
"The second teaching of our Faith which we ask you to recall here is the doctrine of Original Sin. Every human being, except the Immaculate Mother of God, has through original sin inherited a tainted nature, which manifests itself more intensively perhaps in inclinations to impurity than in any other way. The resulting battle with concupiscence is not limited to a given age or state of life; it must be waged by all and at all times. It is the teaching of our Faith that through Original Sin man's nature has been wounded. The wound in our nature is experienced through the struggle which we have to control our imagination and our passions. Imagination by it self, we know, is simply a picture making power. It certainly is of real use to the intellect of man, but because of Original Sin it can also playa part in the mind's affairs totally out of proportion to its merits. Hence, to feed the imagination with all sorts of pictures which serve to excite the passions in man's bodily nature is obviously against God's plans and God's will. Such pictures tend to make the passions rebel against the control of the intellect and will, and to draw the will itself away from conformity to God's will. That is sin! Original Sin and its consequences in our fallen nature impose upon us the obligation of keeping the imagination under proper control of the intellect and the will.
"The third teaching of our Holy Faith is that this weakness of human nature, which is the result of original sin, can be met only by means of prudence and right reason, and by using the plentiful means of supernatural graces that have been provided for us by our Divine Savior. The world uses neither. Prudence tells us that we must reasonably avoid whatever tends to make the imagination rebel against the intellect and will, and to draw both of these away from God. The prudence, therefore, which sees that the virtue of purity is a necessary good, also sees that certain things must be avoided to assist the will in the pursuit of that good. The world does not use prudence in the matter of purity... It provides a constant flow of incentives to lust, completely heedless of the intimate and necessary connection between modesty and purity, and indeed often denying the sin of impurity itself. Emphasizing the dictates of prudence. Christ requires: 'If thy hand or thy foot is an occasion of sin to thee, cut if off and cast it from thee! It is better for thee to enter life maimed or lame, than, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if thy eye is an occasion of sin to thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee! It is better to enter into life with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into the hell of fire.' (Matt. 18:8-9) The world does not heed this admonition of Christ because it denies the reality of the sin of scandal, and because it ignores or despises the supernatural means (the Sacraments and prayer) for preserving purity.
"These three facts of our holy Faith point to a threefold obligation on our part. First, to love purity for itself, as binding on all of us, in all the public and private relationships of our lives, as necessary for the salvation of our immortal souls. Second, to use prudence and common sense to protect it. Third, to use the supernatural means of prayer and the sacraments to preserve it. Listen to these words of our Holy Father in an encyclical letter of March 25, 1954 in this regard: 'It is abundantly clear that with this warning (quoted above from Matt. 18:8-9), our Divine Savior demands of us above all that we never consent to any sin, even internally, and that we steadfastly remove far from us anything that can even slightly tarnish the beautiful virtue of purity. In this matter no diligence, no severity can be considered exaggerated. Flight and alert vigilance, by which we carefully avoid the occasions of sin, have always been considered as the most effective method of combat in this matter. Moreover, to preserve purity unstained, those helps must also be used which entirely surpass the powers of nature, namely prayer to God, the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, and a fervent devotion to the most Holy Mother of God."
IV. THE VIRTUE OF MODESTY
"This brings us to a consideration of the virtue of modesty as it relates to the virtue of purity. The virtue of modesty, in general, may be described as that virtue which prompts us to be decorous (in good taste), proper, and reserved, in the way we dress, stand, walk, sit---in general, in the way we behave exteriorly The virtue of modesty is particularly regarded as the guardian of purity in thought, word, and action. St. Thomas says that the virtue of modesty is the virtue by which we rightly regulate our conduct in respect to those things that can lead to impure thoughts, desires, and actions, in ourselves and in others "One area of human life in which modesty particularly must exercise its influence on those who would be chaste and to help others preserve this virtue is in dress. With regard to clothing, modesty requires especially two things: first, care that one does not make purity difficult for oneself, or for others, by one's own mode of dress; and, second, a prudent but firm and courageous resistance to the styles and customs, no matter how popular or widespread, or adopted by others, which are a danger to purity. Pope Pius XII, in an address to a group of Catholic Action girls on October 6, 1940. stated: 'Many women ... give in to the tyranny of fashion, be it even immodest, in such a way as to appear not even to suspect that it is unbecoming. They have lost the very concept of danger; they have lost the instinct of modesty.'
"In general, that form of dress may be said to be immodest which serves to arouse the lust of men, or which serves as a scandal, that is, a stumbling block, to the practice of virtue... We must emphasize in the strongest possible language that it is Catholic teaching, based on the most clear words of Christ Himself: that impure thoughts and desires freely indulged are serious sins. To invite such impure thoughts and desires through dress, action, or the printed and pictured story (literature, movies, television) cannot help but participate of the grave sin of scandal and cooperation."
As far back as 1928, Pope Pius XI sensed where this trend to uncover more and more of the body would lead if not corrected, and, on August 23, 1928, ordered a "Crusade Against Immodest Fashions, Especially in Schools Directed by Religious". The letter containing the order was sent to all Ordinaries of Italy through the Sacred Congregation of Religious.
In carrying out these Orders, certain Standards of dress were issued by the Cardinal-Vicar of Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Pompili, on September 24, 1928. (Standards had to be set---standards that would not be lowered each year to conform to the fashions available on the market.) With regard to the Church's Standards, bear in mind that as recently as the 19th century and early 20th century, women were wearing their dresses near or down to their ankles, and their sleeves were generally 3/4 length or down to their wrists: During the 1860's women wore full length hoop skirts. By 1870 skirts were still full length but had narrowed. The dress of the 1880's had a bustle that made the full length skirts full in back. Around 1910 women wore "hobble skirts"---full length skirts that were narrow at the ankles. In the 1920's came the "flapper style." These were straight line short dresses, usually sleeveless, that ended at, or above, the knee. That was the beginning of the present trend! From that time on women's fashions have come to reveal more and more of the body. (True, there have been periods of modest fashion from time to time. The fashion designers have to keep changing the styles so that the clothing industry will remain a lucrative business!)
Then, on January 12, 1930, Pope Pius XI directed the Sacred Congregation of the Council to issue a strongly-worded letter on Christian modesty to the whole world. Yet to this day, very few Catholics have even heard of this document, and scarcely anyone seems to know its gravely-worded contents. (Liberalism could see no need for the Pope's Modesty Crusade. It kept insisting that "custom" determines what is modest and what is immodest in attire---even when these shameless customs were introduced for profits by heathen commercialism.) This 1930 letter imposed the obligation of combating the immodest fashions and promoting modesty, on all persons in authority---Bishops, and other ordinaries, parish priests, parents, Superioresses, and teachers in schools.
First we will quote excerpts of this 1930 letter, and then quote the Standards previously issued by the Cardinal-Vicar of Pope Pius XI on September 24, 1928.
1930 LETTER OF THE SACRED CONGREGATION OF THE COUNCIL:
"By virtue of the supreme apostolate which he wields over the Universal Church by Divine Will, our Most Holy Father Pope Pius XI has never ceased to... condemn emphatically the immodest fashion of dress adopted by Catholic women and girls, which fashion not only offends the dignity of women, but conduces to the temporal ruin of the women and girls, and, what is still worse, to their eternal ruin, miserably dragging down others in their fall. It is not surprising, therefore, that all Bishops and other ordinaries, as is the duty of ministers of Christ, should in their own dioceses have unanimously opposed their depraved licentiousness and promiscuity of manners, often bearing with fortitude the derision and mockery leveled agaInst them for this cause. Therefore this sacred Council, which watches over the discipline of clergy and people, while cordially commending the action of the Venerable Bishops, most emphatically exhorts them to persevere in their attitude and increase their activities... in order that this unwholesome disease be definitely uprooted from human society. In order to facilitate the desired effect, this Sacred Congregation, by the mandate of the Most Holy Father, has decreed as follows: (Editor's note: We will quote only those numbered portions that pertain to modesty in dress.)
1. "The parish priest should command that feminine garb be based on modesty, and womanly ornament be a defense of virtue. Let them likewise admonish parents to cause their daughters to cease wearing indecorous dress.
2. "Parents, conscious of their grave obligations toward the education, especially religious and moral, of their offspring, should assiduously inculcate in their souls, by word and example, love for the virtues of modesty and purity; and since their family should follow the example of the Holy Family, they must rule in such a manner that all its members, reared within the walls of the home, should find reason and incentive to love and preserve modesty.
3. "Let parents never permit their daughters to don immodest garb.
5. "Superioresses and teachers must not receive in their colleges and schools immodestly dressed girls, and should not even make an exception in the case of mothers of pupils.
6. "Nuns, in compliance with the Letter dated August 23, 1928, by the Sacred Congregation of Religious, must not receive in their colleges, schools, oratories or recreation grounds, or, if once admitted, tolerate girls who are not dressed with Christian modesty; said Nuns, in addition, should do their utmost so that love for holy chastity and Christian modesty may become deeply rooted in the hearts of their pupils.
9. "Maidens and women dressed immodestly are to be debarred from Holy Communion ... further, if the offense be extreme, they may even be forbidden to enter the Church."
Donato, Cardinal Sbaretti, Prefect of Congo of Council Rome, January 12, 1930
The Standards previously issued by the Cardinal-Vicar of Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Pompili, on 9/24/28 are:
In order that uniformity of understanding prevail... we recall that 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 (see exception below), and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper.
IS THE ORIGIN OF THE 9/24/28 DIRECTIVES BY POPE PIUS XI WELL-ESTABLISHED?
Yes, it is. Bishop Douville of Quebec, Canada, in his pastoral dated July 22, 1944, quotes the exact directives given, and adds that they were issued by the Vicar-Cardinal of Rome on September 24, 1928.
The Philippine Hierarchy officially recognized the 1930 Special Instructions of the Sacred Council as prescribing the Roman Standards of Modesty in dress for women and girls all over the world. Acting upon this letter from the Sacred Council, the Philippine Bishops issued a joint pastoral on May 19, 1931, prescribing these Roman Standards for all their Dioceses. And on December 6, 1959, His Eminence Rufino Cardinal Santos, Archbishop of Manila, issued a lengthy and masterful Pastoral Letter to "confirm once more and declare in full vigor in our Archdiocese what the Holy Father and the Catholic Hierarchy have stated on different occasions." The Cardinal then repeats the "Church's stand concerning modesty in dress" by quoting the standards set by Pope Pius XI.
Further, a "League of Modesty" was formed in Chicago, Illinois, as directed in the Instructions of January 12, 1930, to promote these standards given by the Cardinal-Vicar of Rome. In 1935 this League issued a folder with the Imprimatur of His Eminence, George Cardinal Mundelein, in which these standards were incorporated. The folder reads, in part: "Since unity of action through the adoption of a unified standard is necessary, if such a movement is not to shatter on the rocks of discordant opinions, the following standard of modesty in dress has been evolved based on the norm laid down by the Cardinal Vicar of the Holy Father."
Then, in December of 1944, the late Father Bernard A. Kunkel (previously quoted in this article) began a modesty crusade, with Episcopal approval, using these dress standards as a guide, codifying them and making a small, Ecclesiastically approved, temporary concession in the matter of sleeve length:
"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."
------THE CARDINAL VICAR OF POPE PIUS XI
1. Marylike is modest without compromise, "like Mary," Christ's Mother.
2. Marylike dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows; and skirts reaching below the knees. [Note: Because of market conditions, quarter-length sleeves are temporarily tolerated with Ecclesiastical Approval, until Christian womanhood again turns to Mary as the model of modesty in dressing.]
4. Marylike dresses do not admit as modest coverage transparent fabrics, laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc.---unless sufficient backing is added. However, their moderate use as trimmings is acceptable.
5. Marylike dresses avoid the improper use of flesh-colored fabrics.
6. Marylike dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer; they do not emphasize, unduly, parts of the body.
7. Marylike dresses provide full coverage, even after jacket, cape or stole are removed.Marylike" fashions are designed to conceal as much of the body as possible. [Tan Book Editor's note: This automatically eliminates such fashions as tight slacks, jeans, sweaters; shorts which do not reach down to the knees; sheer blouses and sleeveless dresses, etc. Especially scandalous is the wearing by both sexes of shorts in church---the house of God! One can't help but wonder if Catholics who come to church immodestly, or inappropriately, dressed haven't lost belief in the presence of Christ in our churches. If Our Lord were to come back to earth now, in His Physical Body, to sit on a throne on the altar, would we go to the altar in shorts---or other immodest, or improper, attire---to fall down in adoration before His Divine Presence? Think about it!]
The Marylike standards are a guide to instill a "sense of modesty." A girl who follows these, and looks up to Mary as her ideal and model, will have no problem with modesty in dress. She will not be an occasion of sin or source of embarrassment or shame to others.
POPE PIUS XII'S REFUTATION OF CERTAIN SOPHISMS:
In an address to the Latin Union of High Fashion on November 8, 1957, Pope Pius XII stated: "The most insidious of sophisms, which are usually repeated to justify immodesty, seems to be the same everywhere. One of these resurrects the ancient saying 'let there be no argument about things we are accustomed to', in order to brand as old fashioned the rebellion of honest people against fashions which are too bold ..." This fallacy consists in the implied notion that sin stops being sin as soon as one gets used to it. Imagine how many kinds of sin could be whitewashed in this way! The fact is that man can, so to speak, 'get used to' just about any sinful practice that might be mentioned---promiscuity, fraud, cheating, lying, etc.---but that does not make it any less offensive to God or less deservIng of divine punishment. It" is a common thing for such a one to say. though actually in self-condemnation, "It doesn't bother me at all... I see nothing wrong in it..." And he is right: he doesn't see anything wrong in it---but this is no compliment to him. He has become morally and spiritually blind through repeated sins. His conscience is dead! Pope Pius XII goes on to say:
There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved, no matter how broad and changeable the relative morals of styles may be ... Style may never give a proximate occasion of sin, and clothing must be a shield against disordered sensuality.
Another sophism which the Holy Father's address explodes. "He must have a dirty mind if the current styles are such a great temptation to him." On this point the Supreme Pontiff assures us. "Greater sensitivity to the warning against the snares of evil, far from being cause for criticism of those who possess it as though it were only a sign of interior depravity, is on the contrary the mark of an upright soul and of watchfulness over the passions." Sensitivity, then, a careful guarding of the "eyes that they may not behold vanity" (Psalms 118:37), is rather the mark of a clean mind. A "dirty mind" sees no temptation in immodest dresses. The dirt is already in that mind which can see no need for closing the shutters of the eyes. Just as an untidy housewife is "not affected" by dirty shoes entering her dirty house.
O ETERNAL and incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine incarnation.
I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.
Hail, then, O immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee.
I, ________________, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before. In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity.
Receive, O benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity; in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honor and to obey thee in all things.
O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom thou lovest and teachest, whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children and thy slaves.
O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.