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From Gawky Innocence to Dirty Dancing. A School Finally Cracks Down.

January 31, 2010

Back in High School I was a very gawky teenager. I was 6 feet tall and 130 lbs. I was so thin you could not see me from sideways on except for the fact that my kneecaps and elbows stuck out. I was terribly shy around girls and considered the possibility of a date to a school dance quite remote.

But school dances up through about 10th grade were strange too. Most of the guys would stand on one side of the room and most of the girls on the other. Occasional furtive glances and giggles predominated and only a few of the guys were brave enough to ask a girl to dance. It was more common to see the girls out on the floor dancing in groups  and the guys hanging tuff and looking cool on the side. It was a silly really but there was a kind of innocence. To be sure some of the kids in early High School were sexually active but most just said they were.

In 11th Grade came the prom and I actually summoned the courage to ask a girl as my date. She was blind enough to agree. But I remember the proms and how elegant they were. I wore a tux and she an elegant dress. I felt grown up for the first time, a young man with his lady. I was still gawky but I was learning for the first time the rituals of courtship. I may have had some unchaste thoughts but I knew my limits and the rules of the dance protected us both. A well chaperoned dance can help young people take the next and proper steps in courtship but guidance is critical. That was the early – mid 1970s for me.

Twenty years later I was in attendance at a middle school dance at a presumably Catholic School. I had been away in Seminary and it had been a dozen years or more since I had seen a school dance. I was shocked at the difference. Not only were the youngsters not on the margins being shy and furtive, they were emphatically out on the floor. They were not dancing as couples but in a large tangle of young people bumping and grinding in horribly immodest ways. Many of them were simulating sexual activity right out on the floor. Even more shocking, the adult “chaperons” were standing meekly on the side sipping punch and allowing this to go on. I went to one and inquired  who was in charge and the woman seemed quite surprised at my shock at the dirty dancing.  “Oh they’re just having fun,” she said.

I’d had enough. I went out on the floor and started pulling apart the most egregious violators and told them to cut it out to go over and sit on the side until I spoke to them. I then huddled the “chaperons” and explained that this sort of behavior had to stop and I needed their help. I told. A few of them made weak attempts to stop the gyrating teens but most just stood there. Finally I was off to the DJ to turn the music off and with his microphone in my hand I lectured the youngsters (and apparently a many of the not so young) on modesty.  To the girls I spoke to them of their dignity as daughters of God and that they ought to demand respect from the boys. I to the boys I preached respect for the girls I warned them all that God was watching.

It was really the adults who angered me that night in the early 90s. We were letting our children down by not teaching them boundaries, self-respect or mutual respect. Kids who have newly explosive hormones rushing through their veins need guidance and clear rules. They need kind but firm adults who can help them to understand and master  the powerful forces unleashed within them. As you may imagine I had many tense but productive meetings with the adults who were youth leaders in the months to follow.

In the video to follow is a very good interview I saw on Fox News today. Shannon Breen interviews Betsy Hart, author of “It Takes a Parent.” In a very good move more and more schools are cracking down on “Dirty Dancing”and spelling out very clearly what the teenagers may not do. It is long overdue and I well hope it will widely multiply to every school district. Hopefully most of our Catholic Schools have dealt with this phenomenon long ago (as my school did back in the early 1990s).

A dance should be a time when young people learn the delicate art of courtship. When they learn to be close physically but in a way that is respectful. Dances should teach young men to be gentlemen and girls to be ladies. Sadly, this has been untrue for years. Loud music, dark rooms, chaotic strobe lights and poor dress codes have all given way to increased immodesty and unchaste bumping and grinding. Children deserve better than to be sexualized and uninstructed in basic modesty and reverence. Enjoy this interview and pray that common sense parenting and mentoring will once again catch on.

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Comments (62)

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  1. Katherine G ERT says:

    I agree that school dances and places to dance for fun have changed for the worse. Probably my best dancing experience was when i went contra dancing and waltzing with a friend. The older men danced better than the younger men, and I was treated like a lady. But you almost have to know a friend of a friend to find places like that anymore. Good for you for teaching those kids about modesty! It sounds like somebody had to do it!

    I can’t stand seeing girls wear tight, skimpy clothing to church. It is so disrespectful. My grandmother, who was a classy Italian lady ( not to mention fiercely opinionated ), had rules for dressing. If you were going to show off your arms or shoulders, don’t show off anything else. If you show off your legs, cover up on top. Personally, I am not comfortable showing off a whole lot. Being modest works for me!

  2. IEE says:

    By the Photograph you have included, you still haven’t learned your lesson. Impurity begins with immodesty in dress. The young ladies who are pictured are not dressed in modest evening finery. No teeage boy is going to keep his purity with plunging necklines, of high schoolers, teachers, parent, eucharistic ministers, youth ministers, WEDDING COUPLES AND BRIDES MAIDS AND BRIDES GROOMS. IT HAS BEEN GOING ON SINCE THE EARLY 60’S AND GOTTEN WORSE.

    • What makes yo think I have posted the photo with approval. I have written an article expressing concern have I not. Perhaps IEE you shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

      I also want you to know that I had to delete the second half of your remarks which were not only hateful but the profanities made them unpublishable. In the future a civil tongue is helpful in getting remarks to publish.

    • anon says:

      I don’t agree with you that impurity begins with immodest dress. I think it begins long before that. There are such widely varying degrees of what one would consider provocative versus another. Your concept of “plunging” may not be mine, and saying that is the cause of a teenage boy’s impurity sounds like his self control has a lesser part in the equation. I think immodest dress is a symptom of a problem rather than the cause of one.

      Modesty is about not letting it all hang out there, literally and figuratively. We’re a culture that pushes ourselves out there in so many ways, keeping little private. With afternoon talk shows seeking ratings by covering more and more salacious topics under the guise of self-help, society began to accept that it was healthy to talk about every intimate detail of our lives. We’ve grown into culture that actually spends hours watching television shows about other people’s private lives, observing their outrageous antics and terming them “reality.” We have grown into people who self promote and show off. So, to me, modesty is less specific than proper clothing and dance moves, it’s about general privacy and establishing proper boundaries. And in this day and age, I think it’s probably easier for many to button their blouses than their lips.

      • Yes, defining modesty is a challenge and there are many cultural and situational differences that prevail. For example some people consider sleveless blouses immodest others do not. Out at the beach in mid summer there are different standards of appropraite dress that downtown in a city, or in the workplace. I do think it is helpful from time to time that women remember that men are very visual and more easily tempted. It is true, as you say, that men need also to hear the call to curb their thoughts and have a little self-control as well. No mathematical formulas here, just on-going discussion.

    • Cynthia BC says:

      “No teenage boy is going to keep his purity with plunging necklines…”

      No matter how inappropriately a girl is dressed, a young man still is responsible for his own behavior. I suppose that you, “IEE” are of the mindset that women who get raped “had it coming.” That’s just plain wrong.

  3. Mary says:

    Msgr. Pope, you are like a knight in shinig armour. Even more, you are truly a father to many. If all parents were like you, what a wonderful world it would be. On January 22nd our parish had a 3 hour Eucharistic Adoration with a pro-life intention. Afterward I had the opportunity to talk to one of the women who are active in the pro-life ministry in our diocese. She mentioned that her group was going to be visiting our schools, lecturing on chastity. I asked for her opinion on the way girls dress and she said that as a teacher, she sees everything imaginable – very risque clothing. And she and another teacher laughed and shook their heads as they thought about it. I had hoped they would understand the connection between immodesty and a lack of chastity. All of the mothers I talk to about immodest fashions seem to be like the chaperons you mentioned – looking the other way. I lost my father to cancer when I was 13, but I know I would have never, ever exposed my body to him the way the majority of girls do today. I don’t understand Monsignor – why do fathers look on their own daughters this way? Why do mothers allow it, some even calling it cute? Why do our priests remain silent when girls and women come to Mass dressed immodestly? I wish people loved God so much that they would think of Him constantly. Thank you for loving Him so much.

    • It certainly is one of the imponderables. Not being a woman I would not have any idea why some women like to be so exposed. I am shy by nature and am embarassed to be without a shirt and generally don’t like even to wear shorts. That’s just me. But perhaps other women who read this post might chime in. I am surely well aware that women like to display their charms and beauty to some extent but immodesty in some has always puzzled me.

      As for fathers, we live in an age of largely passive fathering. Too many men simply concede the area of raising thier children to mothers. If they disipline at all it usually the son who gets more of it. A lot of men just don’t have a clue as to women’s fashions and are bewildered by all the stuff that goes on. Nevertheless, If I were a father I would think my protective instinct would have to kick in. Why so many fathers do not experience these protective instincts is puzzling to me as well.

      Finally, as for priest we have to be very careful these days after the scandals. I would never talk directly to a young woman about her attire, espeically a minor girl. What I HAVE done is to go to an older woman in the parish and ask her to speak to the younger girls and women. Sometimes I will go to a grandmother and ask her to ask a younger woman to button her shirt more or to dress more appropriately for Church in the future. I feel less inhibited with men and will sometimes knock their hat off their head when they walk into Church with it on. I’ll tell them I’m not impressed with the baggy pants etc.

      One funny story. When I was a seminarian serving at a wedding a bride wore a very immodest dress and as she approached the altar the older priest sensing we were all enjoying the view too much went into the sacristy and brought out an altar cloth and had her drape it over herself. She was angry but he just firmly insisted and she backed down.

      • Nick says:

        I remember reading about St. Ambrose blocking the doorway of his cathedral rather than let an excommunicated unrepentant person in to celebrate the Mass. Maybe you can do something similar with people who come to Mass dressed inappropriately?

      • Katherine G ERT says:

        This is just a response to Monsignor’s question as to why some women are comfortable being so exposed. A lot of us in the present day were brought up to have body confidence. To some women, this means show it all off and not care what anybody thinks. I’m not much older than a lot of these girls/women who are in their immodest/exposed phase, and I went through a brief period of that myself. Funny story: When I used to leave the house to go out with friends, I would wear a hooded sweatshirt over a shirt that was much skimpier. My mom didn’t catch on to this for a while until she was watching me leave one day, and she goes, “No way are you going out in a hooded sweatshirt with your hair and makeup done. What’s underneath the shirt?” Needless to say, my little act was busted. I was probably about 17 or 18 at the time I did that, now that I think about it. At the time, I had thought skimpy was what men thought was hot. Now being older and wiser, I know better. I follow my Italian grandmother’s rules, and it works out. For girls that are insistent upon wearing skimpy tops, they can put a suit jacket or something over top so it covers them up.

        I am kind of funny in the sense that I am very much a sweatpants, t-shirt, no make-up kind of girl. My work uniform is scrubs, and when I’m not in that, I’m likely to be in sweats. I’m actually very uncomfortable in anything girly like dresses, or anything tight. Supposedly I look good in that stuff, but it’s just not my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I dress up for church and events and going out anywhere other than a friend’s house, but I am happiest at home in my sweats, with no make-up on, and my hair pulled back in a long braid, not blow-dryed or flat ironed or any of that. Hope this answers some of your questions, though I’m more of a tomboy than a girly-girl, so I don’t know how much it helps, hahaha.

        • Thanks for this. I guess I am rather shy and the thought of exposing my body, even when I was younger and more handsome never occurred to me. One thing I found interesting was in a book “Wild at Heart” (a book about boys actually) the author talked about observing his daughter who was barely 7 years of age. She, in a way that was almost instinctive, would parade before her parents like a model and display her beauty as she tried on new clothes and things. Sometimes she would get into her moms makeup and also parade in like a model. The author then spoke of what he laerned from that: namely that a woman, even young girls, have a desire to display their beauty and be thought beautiful that is almost instinctual. As they get older some girls expereince this basically good desire in inordinate ways and confuse beauty with raw sexuality.

          As a man I can say that I am most deeply attracted to women who are dressed modestly. I prefer a skirt at the knee or below and a nice blouse or sweater that is not too revealing. It is true, there is a baser part of me that want to glance at less modest women but I am not attracted to them at a deeper relational level. I find modesty more deeply attractive.

  4. Barbara says:

    Imagine you’re a mother trying to find a modest, ladylike, yet fashonable prom gown for your daughter. My daughter graduated from high school in 1992 and the selection was frightful. Cut down to the navel, slit up the thigh… Where were these girls going dressed like that? Strolling for business in Las Vegas or some sleezy street corner.When I complained to the buyer of a prestigious, national chain about the tasteless selection her attitude was that this waswhat the girls wanted, I responded by asking if the store would sell needles as a prom accessory if that was what they wanted. Oh, need I add that this woman insisted that the other mothers didn’t have a problem with “the styles.” We went with a group of girls and their mothers to Atlanta and found absolutely lovely dresses. I sent the store copies of all the receipts with a note.
    Good for you for stopping that kind of dancing. I was hideously self-conscious at that age and so was my daughter. When the girls dress in a ladylike manner that sets the tone and leads to gentlemanly conduct on the part of the boys. Loving parents protect their offspring from danger – what’s dangerous to a16 month old isn’t to a 16 year old but a principled parent has the same obligation.
    Thanks,father!

  5. Terence Filmore says:

    Not only are the clothes themselves problematic, but the slogans they sometimes contain. Slogans suggesting availability for sex; desiring promiscuity; and belitting others. I have seen girls’ clothing with the Playboy ‘bunny’ logo on them – now what parent would want to associate their daughter with (and give money to) a pornographer?

    • Amen. What are some parents thinking? If I were a Father and saw my daughter wearing a shirt that said something provocative I’d surely insist it go in the trash. Although I am reticent to speak to teenage girls about their clothing, I WILL sometimes pull them aside when it comes to slogans. One young lady came to church with a t-shirt that said “Sexy thing” on one side and the other said “Ask and you shall receive.” I called her on it and then told her mother what I had done and asked the mother why she allowed it to be worn. “Well you know how kids are today.” she responded. I went on to recommend the fact that her daughter had plenty of friends but only one mother and that it was important that she learn to command her her daughter. It was a polite but terse conversation.

  6. Karen LH says:

    Girls may not realize that they are dressing immodestly. At some point, it became politically incorrect to point out that men and women are wired differently. The girls are probably focused on being comfortable, stylish and attractive to the boys, but may be judging the boys’ level of sexual arousal by what theirs would be, i.e. considerably less.

    • anon says:

      I agree with you about the awareness of some girls. A few years ago, my daughter selected a pair of sweats with an innocuous word (maybe store name) written across the rear end, and I thought, “Are you crazy? Why would you wear something that draws someone’s attention to your backside?” My daughter said, and please excuse the language but it aptly describes her way of thinking, “Everyone wears them. It never occurred to me that when I read my friends’ sweats that I’m actually looking at their butts!”

      • Yes, I too have always thought of slogans across the backside as truly strange. I have often thought, why doesn’t her mother say something to her? A lot of young girls and some women too just don’t get it. Exciting lust in a man is not a good lure in the end. You bring in the wrong kind of fish.

    • I agree. I would hope that older experienced women might explain to younger girls how men are. Generally men are decent but they need boundaries because their sexual passion is much more incidental and less relational than women’s. Lust is the darker side of men’s sexuality. Women and men need to be sober about this. What you feed grows. Feed a man’s lust and you get a lustful man. Feed his desire for cmompanionship and fatherhood, loyalty and chivalry and you get a gentleman, husband and father.

  7. ejcmartin says:

    It is interesting that your later experience of a school dance was in the early 1990’s. My school dance experience was largely in the late 70’s early 80’s and at the time was still very much groups of girls dancing, boys in the corner. (except for me I liked to dance and was always out on the floor.)
    So what changed over that decade? Although I have no empirical studies, I would venture to say that music videos had a lot to do with this. Prior to the mid-1980’s the only way to see a band/star was to attend a concert and often that was beyond the financial reach of many teenagers. Then comes MTV and the image these bands want to portray comes right to your living room. The result a quick slippery slide to further immodesty. My $0.02.

  8. DJ BIll says:

    Hello Msgr. Pope, I am a Catholic DJ who travels around the country promoting fun, clean and interactive dances. I focus highly on interaction and group/line dancing. I found your post via a Google Alert that is searching for the terms “Catholic Dance”.

    I always tell people who hire me and bring me in that the lights do not need to be down. I think the environment needs to be set for dancing but not for immodest behavior. I also tell them that the chaperones NEED to be involved and not just standing around watching.

    I hate to point fingers and blame things. I agree that it does start with parents and the home environment. I also think that today’s current music and the MTV generation has caused a lot of harm to dances and to what is “acceptable”. I have heard many youth tell me that they just imitate what they have seen on TV and that they just want to be accepted by their friends and peers.

    I will keep doing what I do because I know there is a better way. I pray that the youth are brave enough to really be different and respect themselves and not allow dancing to lead them into sin.

    Peace, DJ Bill
    CatholicDance.com

    • Thanks for sharing your expereinces and thanks too for helping to advise parents and adult leaders as to proper approaches to dancing. I think you are right and others have observed too that MTV is a real problem and at the root of a lot of this. It came to the fore well after my time as a teenager and probably explains my shock at the dance 20 years later.

      • okey says:

        it’s kinda nice to hear of a catholic dj. however, i hope the kind of music you play contains no sexual lyrics and beats that could inspire sensuality cos if they do, you’ll be contributing to the problem and not solving it.

  9. Bender says:

    When I was growing up (1970s), the big issue in what was then called “women’s lib” was for a woman not to be treated “like a sex object.”

    But for the last 30 years or so, after the sexual revolution, the Pill, and Roe fully kicked in, the argument has been that women should be just like men, especially in that caricature of men being able to have sex whenever and wherever they wanted without consequences, such that the message now is that women are sex objects. From the earliest ages today, girls are taught on the one hand to hate their bodies and, on the other hand, to show it off, to act like a sexual toy for the amusement of others (and themselves). Instead of being taught that they are human persons, intrinsically entitled to respect as equal and complementary of boys, they are taught that they are in a power struggle with boys, and their sexuality is a weapon to be used to assert power over boys. The modern feminist movement is an anti-woman movement.

    • I too think that whatever the intentions of the early feminist movement were, Women are more regarded by men as sexual objects than before. With promiscuity so prevalent a man does not have to think of a woman in more deeply relational terms such as a future wife and mother of his children. He can get what we wants without deeper relationships. So, the modern male thinking often goes: why consider a deeper relationship with a woman when you can get what you want without all the trouble. Sad.

  10. Bender says:

    I responded by asking if the store would sell needles as a prom accessory if that was what they wanted

    Not to go too far off on a tangent, but have you heard of the IV-drug user needle exchange program being instituted by Catholic Charities for the Albany Diocese!!

    What the . . . (I’m sorry, my further comments on that matter cannot be printed here or else Monsignor will have to delete them like he was forced to delete the comment above.)

  11. Loreen Lee says:

    Thank you, Msgr. Pope. Yes! It all begins with a feeling of self worth which can then be invested in modesty. This is a measure taken that is not only preventative, but edifying. It certainly is on the right track to making a turn-around to a primary interest of mine. By example, the young can learn that they don’t have to imitate and mimic celebrity fashion. What a good beginning! I feel the ‘rod of Moses’ working in this one!

  12. Jan says:

    I’m wondering what vintage that prom picture is? These days, the dresses are very poofy with huge skirts – almost like the old-fashioned ball gowns you used to see on TV. But, they are still strapless, which I don’t have too much of a problem with, in general. Most of them come with matching shawls or scarves. The bodices also have little sticky tapes that paste the things right to the skin.

    As the mother of a small boatload of daughters, I would add this – modest clothing is hard to find but it can be done. A little creativity helps, and naturally modest girls also helps. Layering is nice – my girls wear a lot of sweaters with camisoles underneath which goes a long ways in making for a nice and current look, while being modest.

    I think the bigger problem is what was alluded to before – fathers aren’t fathering, and some girls are doing the age-old thing of trying to attract a boy to them by allure, which in reality translates to “I need a father-figure but I’m not likely to get one any other way.”

    A loving and involved dad goes a long ways in keeping girls true to themselves. And he doesn’t have to be a jerk about it. Actually, I have a lot more latitude as a mom in being a jerk, because I was in the belly-baring age of the 70’s – no one stopped me, so I did it. My kids won’t make the same mistakes on my watch.

  13. AJ says:

    Msgr. Pope, I am new to your blog and I have found them helpful, thank you for the time you put into them. I noticed your reference to the book “wild at heart”. I have been considering reading it but I was unsure if the ideas would be in line with catholic thought. I am interested in finding a book that encourages masculinity as good and dignified (i.e) in a positive way. I was not sure if your aside ” a book about boys actually” was a remark against the book– silly book for silly boy-men. Or if it was just a statement of fact that it was directed to boys as opposed to men. In other words is it a book you recommend? Is there another you would recommend? Thank you, God Bless you and your work.

  14. Gabby says:

    I’m in 7th grade and they have had inappropriate dancing going on at mixers….I’ve not gone but girls in my grade talk about it. I am glad I am not there to see it or involved in it. It is quite sad and I’m glad people are trying to stop it. God Bless!

    🙂

  15. Mrs. Rene O'Riordan says:

    Msgr. Pope when you described yourself pulling the young dancers apart and ordering them to one side, you reminded me so much of the Curé of Ars!! He did that when he saw the dancing of the young people in Ars!! Your in excellent company!!! Bless your courage and common sense. – Rene

  16. Grace says:

    Msgr. Pope,
    In my parish, we have women standing on either side of the line for Communion.They are standing ready and if any women approach with cleavage or bare shoulders showing, they wrap/drape a scarf around their top. The advantage to this is that the priests don’t have to get involved in any verbal confrontations with women. It has greatly improved the level of modesty in dress worn to Mass! Now, it is usually only visitors who need the scarves. (And there are notices regarding proper dress on the doors of the church). The ladies always smile and do it gently, not in an angry way, and I have not observed any problems.

    • Quite a striking thing that must rankle some women. I would guess aster time it also has a pretty instructive quality too as the women begin to dress more appropriately to avoid embarassment. The old chin patens also helped in this regard.

      Another example of this for both sexes is the fact that in most places in Europe and the middle east once is simply not allowed to enter a Catholic Church wearing shorts. There are signs forbidding it and an usher or door guard to prevent entry.

      • Grace says:

        Yes, perhaps I should have said that my parish is Latin Rite Catholic in southeastern Europe — with a Polish priest (you gotta love Polish priests =D). Also, I have remembered when this program was started two summers ago, there were some objections the first couple of weeks. Then the signs went up on the doors. End of discussion.

  17. okey says:

    Dear Msgr,

    i have this to say:

    we cannot change the world; What we can do is to speak the word of christ to the world hoping that those who belong to him would hear his voice, seperate from the world and conform to the standards of Christ.

    And that brings me to one point: it is about time we stop trying to manage situations and stand firm on certain issues.

    it is obvious that indecent dressing amongst women is the order of the day. As such, the church has to be firm on what our ladies should wear inside and outside the church. While we might not be able to control what people wear outside the church, we should be able to control what people wear inside the church and anyone who cannot conform to the standards should not be part of the church because the person is certainly not going to make it to the kingdom of God.

    Covering women who are indecently dressed just before they receive the sacrament of matrimony or the eucharist is not the solution. The person might think its just about being modest at that point and might as well be immodest everywhere else which doesn’t solve the problem. I believe any body who is not dressed decently should not be allowed into the church all together . If christ could flog men who were older than him for selling items (which were meant for sacrifices) in the temple, i wonder what he would do to those who dress indecently inside the church, causing people temptation and sin.

    Padre Pio was known to have turned back indecently dressed people who came for confession so often that it became necessary to paste clothing regulations for those who wished to go to him for confession at the front door. This is what they wrote:

    “By Padre Pio’s explicit wish, women must enter the confessional wearing skirts at least 8 INCHES BELOW THE KNEE. It is forbidden to borrow longer dresses in church and to wear them to confession. The Church is the House of God. It is forbidden for men to enter with bare arms or in shorts. It is forbidden for women to enter in trousers, without a veil on their head, in short clothing, low necklines, sleeveless or immodest dresses.”

    I believe if our Priests and other church leaders ever since then had been as firm as that on issues of dressing and other issues relating to immodesty, we would not be where we are today where you even have extraordinary ministers of the eucharist dressing immodestly. We probably would have had fewer members, but the work of 12 men is what has brought the whole world to know christ today.

    And if we continue with this “don’t be too rigid, try to be more considerate” attitude, i assure you we have not seen the worst of this.

    Again, i don’t believe the issues of sexual abuse should hinder you from directly confronting women or men who are dressed indecently. If the whole world has lebelled priests Sex offenders or Rapist, i know Christ has not. He knows those who belong to him and doesn’t care what the world says about them and he is the one you are in this world to serve and i know He would want you to rebuke wrongs regardless of who is involved or what anybody will say.

    I pray the Lord continue to give you strength in your ministry, guiding and protecting you from the works of the evil one till you return to him.

    • Yes, but I have to say the whole question of clothing etc. presents complicated pastoral issues especially when people feel singled out. It is one thing for me to have this discussion with y’all here outside of CHurch. It is another to have it in Church when some people may have come poorly dressed. To correct them in that moment may cause an embarassment that will create unecessary hostility. So how and when Priests handle the issue is delicate. TImes like this are good. Bulletin reminders are helpful too.

  18. sonnie says:

    When I was a teenager I wore really short shorts and skirts.

    I thought I was being fashionable. I turned alot of heads.

    If I knew then what I know now about how males are wired, I would of dressed differently.

    Thanks for the article. Some priests’ heads are buried in the sand on this issue.

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  21. compare north-carolina public schools says:

    “No teenage boy is going to keep his purity with plunging necklines…”

    No matter how inappropriately a girl is dressed, a young man still is responsible for his own behavior. I suppose that you, “IEE” are of the mindset that women who get raped “had it coming.” That’s just plain wrong.

  22. Jane Hair says:

    Dear Msgr.,

    We just picked up our 7th grader from the 7th and 8th grade Catholic school dance and I was a little disgusted. I was so happy to find your opinion posted because my husband and I feel alone in many of our thoughts. They held the school dance in the “connector” between the two hallways of our school. Guards (chaperone parents) stood at the connector doors and held the parents back so we could not see or find our 12 year olds. They said it was too protect the students. We both have “Youth Protection” because we teach religious ed. We felt a right to be in the connector dance just as much as the chosen chaperones. The connnector was dark except for the very dimmed light of a strobe. The guards were there to protect the childrens’ privacy I am realizing. I broke the rule and went up to the threshold to take a look. Boys and girls were slow dancing with the young boys having their hands on the 12 year old girls’ hips. I expressed my dismay stating that this sort of behavior was encouraging early dating. We took my son home feeling my comments fell on deaf ears.

  23. sam says:

    just because u didnt have any luck in highschool doesnt mean u get to go around spoiling highschoolers’ fun