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Dress code - Woman refused Entry to Church

A faithful north Clare parish priest agreed to an out of court settlement at Ennis court after Caroline Sherlock took a discrimination action against parish priest Fr Willie Cummins.

Ms Sherlock also took a separate action against former Bishop of the Diocese Of Galway and Kilmacduagh, Martin Drennan who passed away in November 2022, concerning her discrimination claim.

Caroline Sherlock took the action against the faithful priest after it was alleged Fr Cummins refused to allow her to enter the Church for her niece and nephew’s First Communion in 2015. Ms Sherlock said that Fr Cummins stopped her from entering the Church on account of what she was wearing.

Gardaí were called to the Church who detected no public order incident or breach of the peace.

The amounts paid was not disclosed.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Galway has said that the case is concluded “without liability being determined and in terms which both parties have agreed should remain confidential. In light of this, no further commentary is available on this matter,"

The story raises a question for Catholics and dress code for mass and how they can return to a more reverent dress. In previous generations it was taken for granted that people dress respectfully for mass but in recent times the standards have fallen low in many places. Up until 1983 it was written in canon law that a woman had to wear a head covering to enter the Church. Today there is an unwritten rule for all to dress modestly and respectfully. Many Churches had, and a small number still do, a notice on their door regarding dress code. Men and women are both to dress respectfully. Women are to wear modest dress, and likewise men are not allowed to wear shorts or short sleeve shirts. All these written and unwritten rules are respectfully followed by many Catholics out of love and reference for God.

It is not known whether or not Fr Willie Cummins was too strict in relation to Ms Sherlock, but it is known that many priests could and should be stricter in that regard.


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