Expert Answer Forum

Curiosity QUESTION from Dale Allen February 14, 2000 I seem to remember that women attending services had to cover their heads. Is this still the case? As you can tell, I no longer attend services. I told my son about this and he told me I was full of it.
Thank you
ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on February 18, 2000 Dear Mr. Allen
You are absolutely correct that female church-goers did cover their heads while attending church. There were even chapel veils for women who did not have hats. This practice was suddenly ended during the Second Vatican Council (1963-1965). I recall reading an anecdote from Warren Carroll at the EWTN Q & A Experts' Forum ( that this practice was not renounced officially. Instead, through some journalistic misquotation, it was reported that the Church no longer required women to have their heads covered. The Church never made such a decision, but since the media perpetuated the belief that it had, and Catholic women abandoned the practice en masse. Rather than attempt to encourage women to take up the practice, the Church gave in, and decided to focus on other matters.
If you haven't been to Mass since Vatican II, then you have indeed missed many changes. Here is a short chronology
--In 1962 the vernacular was permitted during the Mass for the first time, although Latin was still the preferred language. Gradually, the vernacular was almost universally adopted in the Western Church.
--By 1966: Priests now faced the people, whereas before he had his back to them. The laity were allowed much greater participation in the Mass. Formally they were spectators, whereas now they partcipate in many ways. They recite the responses, sing hymns, serve as lectors and Eucharistic ministers. They also now receive Communion in the hand, while standing, instead of receiving on their tongue while kneeling at the altar rail. Also, there is a marked decline in church art and architecture. The new catchword is simplicity. In many parishes, anything which smacked of baroque Tridentine Catholicism, such as gaudy icons, marian statues, elaborate chalices, etc was removed. The altar rail was also removed in many churches. Architecture became simplified and geometric.
--1968: Musical instruments, beside the organ, were approved. There were to be three Bible readings instead of two.
--1969: Publication of the Missal of Paul VI, the new order of the Mass, which replaced the Tridentine Rite for the whole Church.
--1970: Sunday obligation to attend Mass could now be fulfilled by attendance at Saturday evening Mass. Priests were instructed to preach homilies relating to the scriptural readings, instead of giving topical sermons, as had been the case.
--1972 Creation of RCIA the rite for the reception of adult converts into the Church.
I thank you for your question.
God Bless, and I hope you consider attending Mass sometime, Suzanne
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