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[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fashion Should Oppose the Bad Customs of an Epoch

Fashion Should Oppose
the Bad Customs of an Epoch 

In the last part of Pope Pius XII's speech on fashion, he addresses how indifference to immodest dress is becoming more frequent.

He appeals to the Latin Union of High Fashion – his audience – to courageously fight for good morals to govern the world of fashion and style despite the numbers and strength of those who do the opposite. This appeal applies in a special way to our times, when fashion has become so corrupt and immodest, even in religious circles.


Pope Pius XII


The most insidious sophisms, which are often repeated to justify immodesty, seem to be the same everywhere. One of them is found in the old saying: "ab assuetis non fit passio" (what is habitual does not raise passions), which is repeated to overcome the sound rebellion of honest men and women against styles that are too bold.

Perhaps it will serve well to demonstrate how this old saying applied to this case is incorrect. We have already spoken of the absolute limits that must be maintained in the relativizing of fashion; now we address the lack of foundation of yet another false opinion, which affirms that modesty no longer matters in the modern epoch, already liberated from the useless and prejudiced scruples of past times.

Certainly, there are different degrees of public morality according to the times, nature and conditions of civilization of each people. But, this does not invalidate the duty we have to strive for the ideal of perfection, nor is it sufficient reason to renounce the moral heights already attained, which manifest themselves precisely in a higher sensitivity of consciences to evil and its trappings.

The battle for the predominance of spirit over matter in dress

Embrace your Union (Latin Union of High Fashion), then, with joyful spirit, in this battle that seeks to defend the public customs of your homeland with ever greater morality, worthy of its Catholic traditions.

It is no coincidence that we call your work to moralize fashion a "battle," like any other endeavor that aims to restore the predominance of spirit over matter.

To consider some examples, there are isolated but significant episodes of the difficult and perennial struggle that should animate anyone who is called to liberty by the Spirit of God; a battle whose opposing forces are accurately described by the Apostle of the Gentiles: "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are contrary one to the other: so that you cannot do the things you would." (Gal 5:17)

By enumerating, therefore, the works of the flesh as a dismal part of the inheritance of original sin, it sets out impurity as the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit, which is modesty. Strive [for modesty], therefore, generously and confidently, never letting yourself be surprised by a timidity that made the few but heroic armies of the great Judas Maccabeus cry out: "How can we, with so few, fight against so great a multitude?" (I Mac 3:17) Let us be encouraged by the response of that great warrior of God and the fatherland: "The success of the battle does not depend on the number of soldiers, but on the strength that comes from Heaven." (I Macc 3:19)

Pius XII, Allocution to the International Congress of High Fashion,
November 8, 1957, Petrópolis: Vozes, 1958, pp. 18-19.