EWTN Catholic Q&A
Wearing hats in church
Question from Oliver on 10-29-2007:

I have been told many times in church to take off my hat. I don't believe I have to as I have never read any documentation in the Bible or Catholic doctrine stating I have to. Am I wrong?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 10-29-2007:

Oliver--

Traditional Western etiquette states that in a church a man uncovers his head and a woman covers hers. This is based on St. Paul's exhortation to the Corinthians:

"Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head -- it is the same as if her head were shaven. ... For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man" (1 Cor. 11:4-5, 7).

Although the stricture about women covering their heads in church is no longer enforced by ecclesial law, some women choose to do so either out of personal piety or traditional courtesy. For a man, although he is not required by force of ecclesial law to uncover his head in a church, it is still ordinarily considered a matter of common courtesy for men to take off their hats while inside a building, particularly a church. The one exception that springs to mind is when a man visits a synagogue, where he is often expected to cover his head out of respect.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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