09 February 2011

Veiled Choices

Thanks to Peggy, I learned that Fr. Z has a poll of readers asking whether they think head coverings for women should be obligatory at Mass. The problem with the poll is it operates under the assumption that it is not already obligatory. As the great Unknown Canon Lawyer X as already demonstrated, this requirement is still in effect; it was never abrogated. It is an immemorial custom with the force of law, nor did the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983 affect it. I urge to read his article, if you have not done so already.

Fr. Z is aware of this argument, and though he is of the position that head coverings are a great tradition, and that they should be worn, he simply restated his position that they are no longer obligatory without addressing the substance of the argument by the Canon Lawyer above.

This requirement is not on the radar of most Catholic women, and most either never knew of it or else believe that the obligation was done away with. So, my point in all of this is not to assign guilt to anyone, but to use this little vehicle to spread the truth of the situation as much as I can.

So, vote away on the poll, but be aware that the list of choices is decidedly incomplete.


Anonymous said...

Ha! Still in effect. Good one.

Colleen Hammond said...

I am humbled and honored to veil in the presence of Our Lord. What woman wouldn't be? Thanks for posting this. VOTED!!!

Anonymous said...

So what kind of sin is committed by the woman if she does not cover her head during mass?

thetimman said...

To a reader named Elizabeth, who posted about a private letter that Cardinal Burke wrote to woman who sent him an inquiry about it--

I did not post the link you gave for a few reasons:

1. I have read this letter, and I know of the person who secured it. The Cardinal's letter is written in response to a question, the form of which is not public. It references "custom" but does not indicate the precise nature of the question. Custom can have a lay meaning or a very precise meaning according to canon law. I don't have the context.

2. Cardinal Burke, in his response, does not attempt to canvass canon law or liturgical law and give an authoritative answer. Of course he is a canon lawyer of great excellence, and if he gave such an authoritative opinion I would not be quick to dismiss it. Based upon the wording of the reply--which, again, I have read-- it is not clear. He may have meant exactly what the person whose site you read the account of it says it said, or again it may not.

3. The response was a private reply, and the Cardinal probably did not intend it for publication. I suspect he may have been trying to salve the conscience of a laywoman of troubled conscience. I have not posted this letter because of the private nature of the correspondence. You may recall that Cardinal Burke made some remarks to Randall Terry last year that Terry made public without permission, and the Cardinal publicly rebuked him.

The person who published this post seems to me to be more concerned with making a splash than with finding the truth. He has never successfully rebuked the argument of Canon lawyer X, and is too happy to grasp at anything to do so. His post cites Fr. Z, whose own position is clear but without any supporting argument or citation.

4. In the letter, Cardinal Burke says that veiling is "expected" in the Extraordinary Form, but is not the custom in the Ordinary Form. In some respects this strengthens the argument in the EF, but there is no reason given for the distinction. This adds to my gut feeling that is Eminence's purpose was to ease the mind of the writer and not to engage in a canonical explication.

4. Finally, because this is now public, I may in fact post on all of the above in a little more detail after the Triduum is over.

One last thing, even if His Eminence really believes that veiling is not required in the OF, or in either, based on canon law, I would have to see his rationale before changing my mind that UCLX is correct. And I say that with enormous respect and deference to Cardinal Burke, both as a canonist and a Cardinal. If he would write such a text refuting the UCLX argument, I will be the first to acknowledge it.