Vanguard (Lagos)

20 July 2009

Nigeria: Catholic Members Reject Priest's Move to Allow Females Wear Trousers

Port Harcourt — An attempt to tamper with the dogmatic principle of dressing for female members not to wear trousers to the Catholic Church was put to test, Sunday, but was roundly rejected by the congregation of the Christ the King Catholic Church, Mile 1, Diobu, Port Harcourt, who shouted, No! No! No!

The parish priest, Rev. Fr. Michael Akere, had asked the congregation whether the congregation felt that the wearing of trousers by female members to the church amounted to indecent dressing. He told the church that wearing of trousers to the church by women did not amount to indecent dressing.

"What amounts to indecent dressing is when you wear revealing clothes or you wear trousers to expose part of the body that should be concealed. Even some of you who tie wrapper and wear blouse, skirt and gown still expose your body that is what we call indecent dressing".

At that point, there were loud murmurings, voices of the congregation were raised, denouncing the priest's statement and even drowning his voice which blared from the many giant loud speakers that are positioned at the ceiling and outside of the church.

While the "war of words" between the priest and congregation roared, Fr. Akere came down from the pulpit and walked between the pews and asked them whether "if a female mobile police officer walked into the church in trousers", she would be chased out.

Not done yet, he asked again whether the female Indian and Lebanese members of the church would be breaking the rule of the church if they wore trousers to the church. The congregation responded in anger and with shouts of "it is their culture and the police woman is only wearing her uniform.

When it appeared like the priest was going to bend the age-long rule about women not wearing trousers to the church, some members of the congregation started walking out, even when the Mass had not been declared ended. Fr. Akere then told the angry worshippers not to walk out on him because the final blessing had not been said.

However, in an apparent move to pacify the now tensed congregation, he said the church had not changed its position on women wearing trousers to Mass but that people should tolerate female visitors who wear trousers to the church because "the world is now a global village".

While the "war of words" between the priest and congregation roared, Fr. Akere came down from the pulpit and walked between the pews and asked them whether "if a female mobile police officer walked into the church in trousers", she would be chased out.

Rubbing it in, Fr. Akere then told the people that "the Catholic Church has not changed its rule; so, women must continue to tie wrapper, wear blouses and head tie as well as skirt or gown with the hair properly covered and not trousers. Now relaxed, the congregation then clapped and smiles played on the lips of both priest and members.

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