Q. 1. What is the position of the Catholic Church on women covering their head when going to Church? I was told that since Vatican II, it is no longer mandatory. Is that true?
A. 1. Prior to 1983, the 1917 Code of Canon Law, # 1262, stated,
# 1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.
# 2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.
When the new 1983 Code of Canon Law was released, the aforementioned Canon Law had been removed. Canon Law # 6, 1, abrogated it, along with every other canon of the 1917 Code not intentionally incorporated into the new release.
Canon Law # 6 states:
# 1. When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated:
(1) the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;
(2) other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescriptions of this Code, unless particular laws are otherwise expressly provided for;
(3) any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See, unless they are contained in this Code;
(4) other universal disciplinary laws dealing with a matter which is regulated ex integro by this Code.
Thus, there is no longer any canonical obligation for women to wear a head-covering, much less the more specific veil.
While no Church Law presently exist, there is the moral law that is based on 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 that I quote below:
But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God.
Based on the aforementioned, women have a moral obligation to cover their heads, especially when approaching the Altar for Holy Communion. The moral law has never been set aside.
Having said this, I wish to add that female Eucharistic Ministers also have an obligation to cover their heads when ministering in the Church of Christ. Today's practices and abuses by the Eucharistic Ministers is shameful! They shall be answerable to God on Judgment Day for their "Who Cares" attitude.