I was recently at the beach. It was a fairly nice “family beach” which dials back the loud youth culture and caters more to quiet things like dining, and more homespun entertainment on the boardwalk.

Please pardon me for what I write here. It is a little plain spoken. But at the end of the day, I wonder if a little plain talk isn’t necessary when it comes to beach”wear” (I put “wear” in quotes, because, frankly, there isn’t a lot wearing going on, more nudity really).

Yes I must say, I always remained astonished at the tiny and revealing swimwear worn by many women. Frankly it’s so revealing and over the top that I don’t even find most of it attractive, just lust provoking, and lust isn’t pretty. There is something about modesty that I find more attractive. Maybe its the mystery that modesty protects which appeals. But when almost 98% is “on display” I just feel more sad and alarmed than anything.

I know that some of you will say, “But Father, but Father, what about the men? Are you just going to criticized the females?” Well, to some extent, yes. Frankly most men at the beach cover up a lot more than women do. Most men wear baggy swim trunks that reach often to the knees. And even though men don’t need to cover their chests, (at least in our culture), frankly most of our one piece swimsuits have a lot more fabric than the two piece bikinis of  women. And even the one piece swimsuits of most women fit very tightly so that every curve is accentuated.

But for the record, and for the sake of equality let me be clear, if a man wears a tight speedo I am going to say he is out of line and is dressed immodestly. But frankly, I almost never see that today. Most men would not be caught dead in such a silly thing.

At a personal level it is a very great puzzlement to me why anyone, male or female, would desire to walk around in public with barely a stitch of clothes on. I admit that I am a rather shy person. I almost never wear shorts and would never dream of taking my shirt off in public. Even on the beach I wear baggy shorts that extend beyond my knees and a t-shirt. If I remove the shirt at all, it is just for a brief swim, then I put it right back on.

So I admit, I am shy. But even factoring in my shyness, the question remains, What gets into a person that they are not embarrassed to walk around all but naked? Tiny low cut bikinis that almost shout “Look here at this part of my body!”

It is all odd to me and strangely sad. When I go to the beach I usually spend little time out on the sand, and only walk there at all to be polite to friends. Normally I stay back at the house and enjoy a quiet porch and a book. But out on the beach and boardwalk a kind of sadness envelopes me as I see so many young girls and women denude themselves. I walk, I do not sit on the beach, lest my celibate eyes, were to alight on a particular woman and stare too long.

It was not always this way at the beach. In fact the near nudity of current beaches was all but unthinkable until about the 1950s. As the video shows below, swim wear and modesty at the beach were carefully maintained and swimwear for both men and women covered most of the body. This began to change mid century as swimwear, especially for women, became tighter and gradually more abbreviated.

The present insanity and imprudence has been around since the late sixties, so its not new, but there were times, not so long ago, before the revolution, when sanity, modesty, prudence and respect were maintained even at the beach.

OK, I can hear some saying now, “Father, you are judging me…you are old fashioned….I am a modest woman and I wear bikinis….you’re a dirty old man.”

Well, I am judging, yes I am. Although it is your behavior I am judging. As for you personally, I am actually speaking, presuming you are a reasonable person who would give consideration to what I am saying, namely, that a lot of swimwear offends against modesty and tempts people to impurity. But if you still insist I am judging, fine, but you are judging me in what you say. You are breaking your own rule. So it looks like there’s a pair of us.

As for being old fashioned, yes I am, I admit the charge. Older fashions are better, more attractive. Modesty is reverence for mystery and is very beautiful. I tell you folks used to know how to dress up real nice. It was all so much nicer than the cut off jeans, sloganed t-shirts and sandals that predominate the scenes of shopping malls and public squares today. In the “old days” folks knew how to put on some decent clothes to go out in public. Today, most don’t seem to care and we almost never dress up. I’m gonna say, it doesn’t look pretty, collectively we look like slobs.

As for saying you are modest but wear a bikini, sorry I don’t see it, at least not when you’re wearing a bikini. No, I see a naked woman, not a modest one. Wearing a bikini is not modest. It just isn’t. And frankly a lot of the tight fitting, low cut, one-piece suits aren’t all that modest either.

As for being a dirty old man, I’ve got news for you. Young “clean” men also have “dirty” thoughts when they see naked and provocatively dressed women. They just do. And if you know this, (and deep down you do), why do you do it?

OK, some plain talk. I apologize. But at the end of the day, come on y’all, lets put on some clothes at the beach, and lets call most beachwear what it is: Immodest.

I have written elsewhere that the word modesty comes from “mode” referring to the center or middle. Hence I recognize that there is going to be some leeway when it comes to fashion and that we should not require extreme coverup for women. However, the nudity (and that’s what it too often is) at beaches is not the “mode” of modesty. It is the extreme of immodesty.

Now since I have been plain spoken here, I am going to step back and let you comment with little interference from me. Its your turn.

This video gives some history of swimwear and points a way back. Enjoy it and spread the word.

142 Responses

  1. Debbie Sims says:

    And besides all that, God’s word in I Timothy 2:19 says: I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly… And remember, Adam and Eve clothed themselves with fig leaves; I guess God considered that immodest and he clothed them in tunics made of animal skins.

    • Repent and Believe the Gospel ! says:

      This country is sad and pathetic because the parents don’t even care if their own daughters dress like prostitutes in Hollywood! Nothing is surprising coming from Generation Porno!

  2. Bill Foley says:

    It is interesting to remember what happened at Lisieux, France, on D-Day, June 6,1944. The Carmelite nuns had to leave the convent and go to the city armory because of all the shelling by the Allies. Celine, St. Therese’s sister was shocked by the female fashions; I wonder what she would say now about the swimwear at the beach!

  3. Erica Kauffman says:

    Very well written and said. The next step is to read the little book called, “Dressing with Dignity” by Mrs. Colleen Hammond: http://www.amazon.com/Dressing-Dignity-Colleen-Hammond/dp/0895558009 Her blog: http://www.colleenhammond.com/category/dressing-with-dignity/

    May God bless you!

    • Annie says:

      Love this Father!!!! However Colleen’s book is extreme and saying women can only wear skirts is an overeaction to the nasty immodest clothing that is worn these days. Afterall my Scottish ancestors wore kilts and no one thought they were ladies.

      • Julie Maria says:

        Annie, did you meditated on what Cardinal Siri wrote and Colleen just explain in a very deep way?

        Here is the link: http://en.gloria.tv/?media=332501

        I really think it´s easy to understand that skirt (diferent from kilts as she explain) is a very and amazing way to make clear this forgot truth: we love to be the way God created us, women, and this truth is very important in a “gender society” who tries to destroy God´s plan for Man and Women.

        I pray Our Lady will help you to see clearly!

        God bless,
        Julie

        facebook/modaemodestia.com

        • Annie says:

          Ah the Old “I will pray for you” when my supposed crime is wearing Pants. Cardinal Siri is not anymore infallible than Cardinal Law. If the Pope said from the Chair of Peter that it is a sin for women to wear pants I will throw my modest pants out. She can say all she wants about kilts are different from skirts but the point is the same. Some cultures wore different clothing for the sexes. The women from India wear pants and men in Somoa wear skirts. Modesty is what the Church teaches not that I shouldn’t wear nice women’s slacks. I would also add that Traditional Catholics in Europe do not have these dogmatic discussions about women wearing pants. I saw lots of women wearing pants at the Latin Masses in Europe. We have been too influenced by protestantism of which I left behind.

  4. Julie Maria says:

    I think this could be a good choice, but the better choice is avoid those places of nudity!

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/602446_328117520608419_26392917_n.jpg

  5. Eileen says:

    Colleen’s book is not extreme; her recommendation is not an overreaction. Our Lady at Fatima said that there would be a time when Jesus would be greatly offended by the fashions of women (i.e., women wearing men’s clothing (a.k.a. pants). The fact that the Scottish ancestors wore kilts is a point that must be considered in the context of the culture and tradition of the Scottish people. If you compare the traditions of women in our culture, pants and short shorts are a relatively new phenomenon — particularly for Catholic women. In addition, women change many things about their being, postures, etc., when they wear pants. Just ask one to wear a dress/skirt for a while and then change into pants. I’ll bet she’ll tell you that after wearing pants just a short while, she began to think and do things more like a man (e.g., sit with legs apart, put hands between her thighs, etc., — these are things not typically done when wearing a dress). Women change when they wear pants, and in this period of such “tribal” semi-nudity, it would be good for women to be counter-revolutionary, and wear pretty dresses and skirts. The world does not need any more immodest clothing on women!

    • Bill M. says:

      Call me naive, Eileen, but I’ve never understood what makes skirts or dresses, which display various lengths of leg, are more modest than, say, loose-fitting pants.

      • Eileen says:

        Hi Bill, Again, the question of modesty (for me, anyway) isn’t just about length of dress, skirts, etc., it has more to do with the slit that creates lines that go up the leg. My husband once told me that men love to look at lines on women’s bodies. I don’t know if that is true, but it is for him, anyway. Remember gaucho pants and the “elephant pants”? I believe that they were a stepping stone to getting women to wear pants. It has nothing to do with length, but has everything to do with the making of that split leg effect and again, when there is a split between the legs, it creates a different effect, both for women and men. If it has a split, well, then they are pants, and pants belong on men, is what I understand our Blessed Mother to be saying. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of women who wear pants to do men’s work. The problem for me is blurring the lines between men and women. As I look out across the population, the ability to discern who is a man and who is a woman gets more blurry all the time (but that is a different topic than this), so I will just have to say that for me, anyway, modesty is more than just the length of the leg covering. Maybe it’s different for others, but I like the fact that I’m different than a man and I don’t want to wear men’s clothing for much more than doing messy men’s work when I have to (e.g., taking out the messy trash, cleaning out the barn/garage, that type of thing) … (:-).

  6. Agnes says:

    The bikini-discussion! I’ve learned to avoid it. We’ve discussed this at length among my friends, and with confirmation students. And I’ve come to a few conclusions:
    Young girls can’t tell the difference between sexy and pretty. They really, really can’t! The bikini they’re wearing, to their minds, isn’t sexy – it’s pretty, or in fashion or cool. Certain details they may seem like nothing to you makes all the difference to them (String bikinis are a bit too sexy but Bandeau ones are considered modest for example).
    More than anything, most young girls dress for other girls. While a skirted one-piece would make them more comfortable they can’t imagine wearing them – the judgment from other girls would be too harsh. I’ve heard countless young women say things like “the kind of bathing suits I wore as a child are lovely! But you can’t wear them once your older”.
    Perhaps we can expect adult women to have better judgment – once you’re above the age of 25 you can’t be unaware of the differences in men and women when it comes to the way we look at each other. But the teenage girls don’t get it. They really don’t. They can’t imagine that their carefully chosen bikini – where little ruffles or hot pant-cut might be supposed to communicate innocence and non-sexyness – might be seen as basically sexy underwear by the men around them.
    They are so convinced that they are ugly and unattractive that they can’t begin to imagine themselves as sex symbols.
    Cut them some slack – they have no clue!

    • Tim says:

      …realistic, accurate, astute, and perceptive comment. My 17 year old modesty-trained, beautiful daughter has no clue, despite our efforts to educate her about the reality of adult sexuality. She hears it, but it goes only so deep.
      My wife continues to do all she can to help guide her through this time in her life.

      • anna lisa says:

        Tim, I think it is better to guide our teens gently as well. I have a dear friend with eight children. Her husband makes a modest income, but they scraped by and he has commuted 45 mins every day for twenty years so the kids could attend a really orthodox Catholic school. At her oldest daughter’s graduation party, her daughter wore a “tankini”. The other girls gossiped about her mercilessly. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back! Those girls were jealous of her, but hid behind a false piety to mask their pettiness. My friend’s daughter literally lost her faith after years of this kind of treatment. She is no longer Catholic.

  7. one anonymous says:

    Understanding the need for modesty in dressing as women, it really is in the mind and what is going on there. I have seen women in modest skirts and dresses purposely reveal way more (that pants just couldn’t reveal) than those who wear pants! That said, if the mind is right with God, a women will dress accordingly even when wearing pants (she will not WANT to wear revealing clothing/bathing suit, etc.). Of course young girls should be taught and understand just what modesty is and why it is important to follow.

    • one anonymous says:

      I wanted to add that, in days like these, it is important for young men and all men alike to be modest too… and maybe men DO NEED TO cover their chests and avoid skimpy bathing suits, etc. etc. as to be modest also. I have seen lots of “tight speedos” on men at the beach but also on children’s/young men’s swim teams (school and private) they are required to wear them. It is not only women who are lusted after, we all know this.

  8. Jon says:

    It is useful to have a Natural Law approach to this issue. We are designed by the Creator to have a sexual response when we see the form of someone of the opposite sex. This is in our nature, and we should not pretend otherwise. Therefore, we all have an obligation to cover up our forms, as the occurrence of this sexual response, which is often non-volitional, should always be minimized outside of marriage. Women have the most to cover up, so the most focus needs to be on woman’s modesty.

    Some attempts to promote modesty seem lame, because they do not reference the most important reasons for it.

  9. Proteios1 says:

    The first thought is that when men show their class, the only thing you see is their head and hands. When women show class…or any social scenario,, the only thing you don’t notice are their head and hands as it is all revealed. Clearly, someone took women’s empowerment and fooled them into thinking it meant revealing yourself. I respect a well dressed classy women that reveals little or nothing vastly more than a scantily clad anything. We all know this.

    It’s silly to backup the immodesty deception with words like empowerment. It’s demeaning to women more than the bathing suit itself….which is also pretty demeaning.

    • one anonymous says:

      I don’t understand the “empowerment” argument. I just don’t see the “power” of someone being thought of as an object instead of a person, even though it may be as an “object of beauty”. I know someone can be attracted to beauty and then later “see” the “person”, but that should happen with modesty and if so, it will happen in a more “powerful” way!

  10. john grant says:

    Is there a connection with the state of dress and the state of mind. Is the subject of the following reflective of the connection between the state of dress and the state of mind?

    http://www.mvtimes.com/2013/09/04/rubbish-damages-landscape-oak-bluffs-17167/

  11. markrite says:

    This is kind of a no-brainer; women, please remember that in general, men are the more sexually aggressive of the genders; The bikini fashions of the day @ the beach seem to be designed to deliberately stimulate that aggression to the max.And It can be a real incitation to impurity for men the way so many women dress in this fashion while there. It’s just the way God created us, male and female. So women need to remind themselves of that fact and just DRESS MODESTLY in the summer @ the beach. Get the picture? God Bless all, Markrite

  12. Claire says:

    Never read such a pile of tripe in my life. It’s just a human body – we were all born naked. Everyone needs to stop being so uptight. This shaming of the naked body is exactly why nakedness excites people so much. If nakedness wasn’t controversial, would we really be bothered? Reeks of sexism, misogyny, and body-shaming.

    • You seem pretty uptight about this Claire. So, aren’t you breaking your own rule? As to what I am doing, it’s just speech, we were all born to talk. Why are you uptight that I am using my God-given talent of speech? Your comments reek of censorship, shaming and intolerance for the sensibilities of others.

      • mark† says:

        Monsignoir:

        After awhile will not becomes cannot. I will not resist sin become cannot becomes sin. I will not see becomes cannot see. I am Lutheran. Raised Catholic. Still have alot of respect for the nuns, priest and brothers who educated me. I wish you would write about how will not become cannot.

        The obedience of women to their husbands is to be modeled on that of the church. The obedience of the Church is to receive the gifts of God, forgiveness of sins won by Christ. Obedience is reception. A man’s leadership is to be modeled on that of Christ, you call me Lord and Master and yet here I am, among you as one who serves.

        Doesn’t matter how often the Church says it, the world does not hear because they will not hear. Modesty to the unbeliever makes no sense. My goodness, the damage we have done to ourselves over the last couple of decades. Read a line once, if you are sitting at the poker table and can’t recognize who the chump is at the table, then you are it. The secular types think they are smart but they don’t recognize that they are the chumps. Will not becomes cannot.

        Anywho, enjoy your blog.

  13. Publius says:

    Well I am on both sides of this one. Like the poster from LA, I grew up at the beach and there is a certain prelapsarian aspect to it. I do recall awkward adolescence however though not everyone seemed to feel it. Shyness is partly habituation as is being able to shake of concupiesence or embarrassment at the beach. I have sons, but if I had daughters I would not allow bikinis. Why my sister who is otherwise so on guard about objectification allows my nieces to wear the itsy bitsy things, I dunno. Also, we are a family of competitive swimmes. I remember as kid that having to wear a speedo for the first time was very embarrassing. One gets over it in the context (now most boys wear the jammers which are skiin tight to the the thigh- and the very high tech suits are body length though form fitting). The cult of the body is a problem in this culture and cultivating modesty needs to be done but the devil is in the details.

  14. MaryElizabeth says:

    Saint Pelagia was a beautiful prostitute once upon a time. When a synod of bishops was held in her city, some wealthy customers paid her to walk through the synod in a most immodest way. All the bishops hid their eyes from this display except for one. When his brothers admonished him for watching he responded that God made such beauty to be admired. Pelagia was so overcome with this response that she was filled with remorse. She gave away all her wealth to the poor and reformed her life. Would we all be so strong as to reform and amend our lives.

  15. Patt says:

    Father, I agree with all you wrote. It makes me ashamed (as a female) to see the way women are practically naked at the beach. You do not need to apologize.
    Our Lady of Fatima warned of this 100 years ago!!! She also said that most souls go to Hell because of the sins of impurity. With today’s lack of modesty and shame–it is obvious of how correct she was.

  16. Brian Ortiz says:

    What is it about this issue that evokes so many responses and so much passion? I am uncomfortable with the imbalance – other posts by the good priest that arguably contain more important topics do not get nearly as many comments. I have seen this repeated at other blogs as well.

    Of course, I value modesty, but I am very skeptical of suggestions that condemn specific fashions as immodest. I do not see how such suggestions could be anything other than mere human opinion, and, therefore, not binding on the consciences of anyone. I think a more reasoned approach is to focus on chastity as an attitude and outlook formed by a set principles. Once minds are transformed, I think the rest will follow in time. People will make better prudential judgments about what to wear and how to act. We can kindly talk about those prudential judgments (like many of you are doing), but I think our *emphasis* should be in transforming hearts and letting people make their judgments. I think it is more objective, reasoned, and loving.

  17. ron says:

    Stop your whining! If you don’t want to breath smoke, don’t go where people are smoking. If you don’t want to be subjected to people drinking, don’t go to a bar. If you don’t want to hear loud music, don’t go to a rock concert. If you don’t want to see people in scanty attire, don’t go to the beach.

    • Aren’t you breaking your own rules? You are 1. Complaining. and 2. Coming near where people like me are. Perhaps I would propose a different “rule” namely that “It is OK for people to critique the wider culture in which we all live. That way you can complain, as you are doing here, and so can I. How about that Ron?

  18. Ryan says:

    Well said. Thank you, Father.

  19. Which Beach? says:

    Which beach are you referring to, Msgr.? At WYD in Rio – held on the beach – youth were wearing bikinis to mass, encouraged to flash mob the pope by shaking their booties & shouting “ho! ho! ho!”, receive communion from disposable plastic cups & then hop in the ocean for a swim afterward. The only thing the pope commented on was not to use drugs…Of course, 4 days after pope’s visit pope legalized abortion (pope did not comment on that either) – wonder how many abortions will be the fruit of world youth day. Seems like on most issues the church plays both ends against the middle – and laughs all the way to the bank.

    http://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A532-Bikini-1.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-1LLFbZJCA#t=24

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23432762

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/brazilian-president-signs-law-permitting-abortion-after-papal-visit/

    P.S. Priests aren’t pundits. Priests who care about their flock frankly state the truth: by dressing immodestly women cause men to fall into mortal sin (lust and perhaps to commit fornication/adultery). There are serious consequences for leading anyone into sin – read Proverbs Chapters 5 & 7 concerning women who lead men into sexual sin (her path leads to hell); contrast w/Proverbs 31. Dressing immodestly because one respects men more than God (wants to fit in w/certain crowd of friends) or because one wants men to lust after oneself (vanity/idolatry) or to get a boyfriend (what else will you do to get/keep boyfriend?) – are either sins or will probably lead to sin. Also wonder how many women dressed like this are using contraception because they are engaged in habitual and serial fornication. It’s amazing how women walk around (even news casters) in a constant state of undress/dress designed to “attract men” and yet we have less than replacement birth level as well as 4,000 babies killed a day in U.S. Too bad your article is so unserious when you consider these sins that will damn our nation to hell as surely as the entire city of Sodom was destroyed–or Nineveh had it not repented.

    Throughout the Bible the imagery for infidelity to God is a harlot.

    http://ldolphin.org/Harlot.html

    • Brian Ortiz says:

      Well… I think a case can be made that bikinis at Brazilian beaches like Rio are acceptable given the culture. I also think a case can be made for the contrary claim. I am open to the most reasonable argument, but I definitely resist unsupported assertions that bikinis are always and everywhere immodest. I do not think that is right.

      However, at WYD with the pope? I just can’t help but shake my head. *sigh*

    • Mary says:

      So let me get this straight, but you sound like an Islamic extremist. It is not a woman’s fault if a man falls into sin. It’s the man’s fault. We wear bikinis and other swimsuits to the beach and shorts/tanktops because it’s so darn hot in the summer. We’re just trying to be comfortable and get some tan. We’re not trying to lure men. It’s the fashion of the times. Those modesty swimsuits are downright hideous and I refuse to dress frumpy just because it’s modest. Those modest, frumpy clothes make a woman look old and unattractive.

      • Avoid all or nothing thinking Mary. Words like Islamic extremist hideous frumpy etc. Also please avoid implying as you do that age (old) = unattractive. Besides being unjustly unkind It suggests that you have dismorphic tendencies

  20. Jennifer says:

    Thank you, Msgr Pope! I could not agree more. I have long said that I don’t know a single woman who would walk around in public, among strangers, wearing her bra and underwear, yet they’ll wear a bikini. There’s NO difference except the type of fabric!! It is so immodest, and degrading. And we wonder why so many men treat women like nothing but a body to be used for pleasure.

    • maney_ak says:

      There’s a HUGE difference between undergarments and swimwear. As for knowing women who wander about in public in undergarments, I’ve seen it, plenty. Done it even. For fun and for function – (have you never been camping or spent time being active in the great outdoors?) We tend not to feel offended by things we find to be appealing, attractive, pretty. We only seem to become outraged (or is it jealous?) if our sensibilities have been assaulted by gratuitous sexuality – and/or copious amounts of flesh exposed by incredibly unhealthy egoists!

      The naked or partially clothed body is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Wearing a swimsuit is not akin to murder. To me, of course!

      • Yes it is. Nudity or near nudity in public is uncalled for. It has nothing to do with beauty. Some beauty is for the bedroom though. Also, I have having trouble distinguishing a bikini from underwear. Can you please delineate the differences, other than to say it is different? One difference I CAN think of is that some underwear covers more than a bikini. That of course is not a pleasing difference but it does underscore the fact that bikini’s are about exciting arousal and exposing.

        And since you’re into name-calling (egoists, jealous, unhealthy etc) perhaps I can call you an exhibitionist, a voyeur, and shameless?

  21. Carl says:

    I’m not advocating complete nudity on the beach, but a few years ago I witnessed an interesting demonstration. It was at a Theology Of the Body conference in Maine. There was a Byzantine priest from Chicago there who was also an artist. He showed a drawing of a nude woman; and then the same drawing with the woman wearing a bikini. All agreed that the second picture was more likely to bring on lust.

    • David L Alexander says:

      “There was a Byzantine priest from Chicago there who was also an artist. He showed a drawing of a nude woman …”

      This account is consistent with my own experience.

      As an art student in the mid-70s, I was in figure drawing classes which featured nude models. There is less to the imagination when everything is there to see. Any type of outfit, particularly revealing swimwear, can accentuate some parts more than others. Where i might beg to differ with some, however, is where the lines between observation, admiration, and lust can be drawn. Authoritative opinions on these distinctions have varied over the generations, which makes this issue all the more of a challenge to confront. Indeed, according to the statement from the Cardinal Vicar of Pius XI, Jessica Rey is dressed immodestly on at least three counts (bare shoulders, skirt just above the knee, possibly the neckline). I do not believe it is, but if Our Lady gave warnings at Fatima, as to what manner of dress would displease Our Lord — need I mention that this was a *private* revelation? — can we be certain as to whether or not she was referring to one attired as is Ms Rey?

      I certainly hope not.

  22. Charles Farquharson.. says:

    Ok Father, here’s my solution.. Just like how we keep telling our children that it’s ok to have a gay life style and how we should learn to be tolerant, I’d suggest the same approach with bathing suits.. If the owners and or operators of beaches choose not to want women in “immodest” bikini type bathing suits on the beaches that they manage, all they have to do is place signs at access points stating that fact, and enforce it.. However they should not be surprised if women who feel wronged push back with lawsuits or whatever by retaliatory means they can.. Much like gays have pushed back, even going so far as to coin a word to describe anyone who disagrees with them and their lifestyle as “homophobic”.. Next, it used to be only religious extremists who had a problem with women who were proud of their bodies and so wore somewhat revealing apparel.. Seems the extremist ideology has spread west, despite the sacrifices of so many who fought and died in the current wars to help give women of the religious extremes a voice, never mind those in more religiously neutral countries.. Seriously though, it’s about choice.. And just like the women who choose to wear revealing clothing whether at the beach or anywhere else, you have a choice to look or not to look.. Your shyness as you state, is not reason to deny anyone, man or woman, the right to wear whatever it is they feel comfortable in, so long as there’s no law against it.. As for those bikinis that reveal every part of the wearer’s anatomy, if that person feels comfortable enough to wear it, why let it be a bother to you? It’s their body being revealed, not yours.. Keeps yours in the knee length shorts that you prefer.. Live and let live..

  23. Eileen says:

    I think that if we go back and take a look at the teachings on modesty that the church used to teach prior to Vatican II, much could be learned — both by priests, and the laity. Modesty, I believe, is defined by the unwillingness to show the body form. Our Blessed Mother certainly did not dress with clingy dresses and belts. Also, since Vatican II and its aggiornamento – the opening of the Church to the world – we see clergy abandoning the old good customs of custody of the eyes and body. Monks certainly did not embrace women, as they do today.

    We can see the extreme vigilance to keep chastity that the medieval Orders maintained from this brief story in the early annals of the Dominican Order.

    During a chapter presided over by Blessed Jordan of Saxony, who was the second General of the Dominican Order, one of the brothers accused himself for having shaken hands with a woman. This brother excused himself, however, by saying that she was a person of good reputation and that no harm had been done.

    Thereupon Blessed Jordan made this curt reply: “Rain is good and earth is good, yet mingled they form mud. In similar fashion, though the hands of men and women are both good, yet evil may arise in thought and affection if they are brought together.”

    From the Lives of the Brethren of the Orders of Preachers 1206-1259,
    London: Blackfriars Publications 1955, Part IV, Chap. 31

    Perhaps this is good food for thought …

  24. Saffra says:

    The Doauy-Rheims Bible says something very interesting about immodesty in Galatians 5:19-21
    “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, [...] and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.”
    Don’t tempt men to lust (that’s a sin) by showing the upper half of your breasts to everybody. I’m a girl too and I won’t.

  25. Linus says:

    Well, let’s be honest, men are different than women. Conciscence attacts us in one way, women another. I’ve never understood where it attacks women, unless it is vanity. But lets face it a male exhibitionist does not bother me at all, but female immodesty does. Here is an excellent video by some brave priest that says it all.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZHECJJbzPM

    Linus2nd

  26. BC says:

    Thank you Msgr. This whole topic makes me really sad. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time believing that most teenage girls don’t know the difference between pretty and sexy. I sure did! I grew up in the 70′s and 80′s and miniskirts, bikinis ,etc.. were worn by me and my friends to attract boys. Period. We knew what we were doing and knew that our dads didn’t like it. We snuck out of the house and changed at the beach. We may not have understood all the ramifications or theology of the body, but we knew it was to attract the opposite sex and we wanted to look as sexy as we could get away with. It was not until I had daughters of my own that I started to realize how immodest my dress was. Funny, I am hypersensitive to immodesty now and it makes me really sad that I spent so many years in this mode and probably caused more than one brother in Christ to sin. Mea culpa!

  27. Anna Marie says:

    Thank you Monsignor Pope for this very brave article. The lack of modesty is not only inappropriate, it is sinful. It is leading men and women into the occasion of sin. I will share a personal, sad but true situation. I am a mother of five and I had a nice figure even after having my children . However at 50 + it has been a struggle to keep the pounds off. I work very hard to remain healthy and attractive for my husband, especially during the yearly trip to a warmer climate. I dieted and exercised myself into a modest but flattering one piece bathing suit. Honestly, I was hoping to see that twinkle in my husband’s eye. Well , not only did I NOT see the twinkle , what I did see was crushing. Due to crowding, we were stuck (rather I was stuck!!) in between two gorgeous blondes in tiny bikinis. Let’s just say my husband isn’t blind. Please understand , I was not jealous, but I did feel invisible during the” big reveal” of months of diet and exercise. My husband is a very handsome man and these women loved the challenge of trying to get him to look at them. I was exhausted after their performance , and also feeling rather hurt. I couldn’t help but to ponder , why these two mothers would want to entice another woman’s husband right in front of his wife and children??After putting my cover-up back on and roasting in the hot sun I secretly wanted to kick their rear-ends right into the pool. But then behind my sunglasses I began to cry. I am embarrased to admit that at first it was for me, but then it was for them. I thought how sad it was for them that they get their self-worth from strutting their stuff in front of a man. I thought of how they set us (women) back into being looked at as sex objects. Lastly, I cried for their daughters that will one day imitate their behavior. Then I prayed to Jesus Christ to heal the wound in them that would turn these beautiful women into poolside Jezebels. It killed me to do this , but I complimented one of them on her pretty eyes, and the other on her nice smile. It made them very uneasy. Seductiveness turned to shame, and seemed to have put a damper on their game. Shortly after they packed- up for the day . Let’s just say on day two, they were no where in sight. I write this especially for women to see how every action has a reaction, and we are all responsible for our actions. So ladies ,is it really worth creating so much sin just for your ego boost? As women we should be ladies, healers , nurturers and supporters . Not family-friendly porn stars. Remember ladies, we all reflect our upbringing, I remember my mom’s bathing suit looked like fun in the sun, not dental floss.

  28. maney_ak says:

    Oh no! Will the Catholic Church begin advocating the burqua? :-))

    Men must control themselves. NOT continue persecuting women for their own lack of self control.

    Thank you for the forum!

  29. Richard Fossey says:

    Thanks, Msgr. Pope, for an irrefutably well written blog.

  30. Michael Hamilton says:

    I agree totally with the comment “the better choice is avoid those places of nudity!” I thought we are to avoid occasions of sin as we say at the end of confession. I just wish modesty in dress inside churches were enforced more.

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