Part 2B of Pope Pius XII’s Allocution to the “Latin High Fashion Union”

Therefore the Church neither blames nor condemns fashion when it is aimed toward the just dignity and adornment of the body; however, it never fails to put the faithful on guard against a facile misdirection of it.

This positive attitude of the Church derives from motives very much higher than those purely aesthetic or hedonistic ones assumed by a renewed paganism. She [the Church] knows and passes on that the human body, God’s masterpiece in the visible world, at the soul’s service, was elevated by the Divine Redeemer into a Temple and instrument of the Holy Spirit; and must be respected as such. Therefore, its beauty must not be exalted as an end in itself, and even less, so as to demean that acquired dignity.

On this concrete ground, it is undeniable that alongside honest fashion, there is another that is an shameless cause of disturbance in ordered spirits, if not actually an incentive toward evil. It is always difficult to indicate, with universal norms, the boundaries between honesty and immodesty of a hairstyle depend on many factors; however, the so-called relativity of fashion with respect to times, places, persons, and education is not a valid reason to renounce, a priori, a moral judgment on this or that fashion, that at that moment, goes beyond the limits of normal reserve. Almost without being questioned, this immediately averts one from where provocativeness and seduction, the idolatry of material things and luxury, or just frivolousness, are sheltered; and if designers of shameless fashion, or of contraband perversion, are skilled in mixing it into a set of aesthetic elements that are honest in themselves, unfortunately human sensuality is more dextrous at discovering it and quickly feeling its fascination. As said elsewhere, a greater sensibility for being warned of evil’s snare — far from constituting a label of blame for those gifted with it, as if it were a mark of internal depravity — is on the contrary, the countersign of chastity of the soul and vigilance of the passions. But as long as the moral relativity of fashion may be vast and unstable, it always exists as an absolute of salvation, after having listened to conscience’s admonition as a warning of danger: Fashion must never provide a near occasion of sin.

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Filed under Dress code, Translations

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