More dress, less promiscuity, says Perth Archbishop
Warning of the risks of unwanted attention for women, Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey said young people are failing to appreciate the link between modest dress and the dignity of women.
Archbishop Hickey made his comments in a wide-ranging interview with Perth's Sunday Times newspaper in which he warned that scantily dressed young women risk attracting unwanted sexual attention and attacked the promotion of condoms as a safe-sex aid.
However, Archbishop Hickey distanced him from the controversial comments last month by Australian mufti Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, who compared immodestly dressed women with uncovered meat.
"But it (exploitation) is a different thing," he told the Sunday Times. "There are risks in (dressing revealingly) because they will attract the attention of men and then they'll have to deal with that and sometimes they might not want that attention that they will get.
"There's a case for modesty of dress to do with the dignity of women and maybe young people growing up haven't quite got that understanding.
"Dress is something to do with presenting oneself to the world and that dignity of womanhood should be part of life, not just sexual allure."
Society was also "very, very much mistaken" about promoting condoms as making sexual activity safe.
"Society only gives false assurances to young people ... because the failure rate of condoms will eventually catch up with them and the consequences of intercourse will be there," he said.
"Pregnancy is an obvious example, but even as preventers of disease, condoms eventually fail ... whether it is HIV, AIDS or whether it is other sexually transmitted diseases.
"There is another answer and that's self-control and chastity."
"But we've got to put the blame on society's own permissive attitudes," he said. "It gives encouragement for sexual activity at a very young age.
"You only have to read the glossy magazines, you only have to look at the extent of pornography, how easily available it is on the internet.
"Sex has got its role in human affairs, but young people who get sexually active are being exploited.
"They'll miss the connection between sex and marriage and family life, and find they are damaged by all this activity and will have problems with their own self-worth.
"Sex is about love, first of all, and procreation, and the proper place is in marriage.
"So one should advocate chastity before marriage and fidelity after marriage; that's, I think, the message that will be very helpful to everybody."
Calls for modest dress, less sex (Perth Now, 13/11/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Perth
Archbishop Barry Hickey (Catholic-Hierarchy
Perth schools take stand on ball season modesty (CathNews, 19/4/06)
Vatican tourists told to maintain modesty during heatwave (CathNews, 18/7/03)
13 Nov 2006