It’s hard enough being a parent trying to inculcate in your children both modesty and a sense of respect for the Mass without having your archbishop undermine you. In his weekly column in the Atlanta archdiocese newspaper, Archbishop Wilton Gregory invites kids to wear whatever they want to Mass:
As the pastor of this local Church, I must confess that I have never been offended or scandalized by any attire that I have seen our kids wear to Church. I am so happy to see them at Mass that I generally don’t even notice what they are wearing. When I see those bright faces, I am grateful that these young people are found within the warm embrace of the Church. Braces and flip-flops are welcome wherever I am celebrant.
So kids, I guess it’s okay to wear short shorts and minis and ripped jeans and t-shirts with offensive sayings and midriff-baring tops and jeans so loose they show off your boxers. Hey, the archbishop says it’s okay. (Incidentally, was anyone complaining that wearing braces is not appropriate?)
The point some parents want to teach their kids is that how you dress reflects how you act and how much you respect the occasion. You wouldn’t show up to a court hearing wearing those clothes (I hope!) or at your own wedding like that. Shouldn’t you dress modestly and appropriately to be in the presence of the Holy Trinity, to receive the Second Person of the Trinity in the Eucharist, and offer your worship to the Father?
Gregory then offers a sop to the parents, telling teens that their parents want them to dress a certain way to “speak to the entire community of the Church.” Umm, no, it’s not about impressing the neighbors (or shouldn’t be); it’s about respecting Jesus Christ.