“I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head — it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.) Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God. ” 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

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It is popular among those who disagree with the practice to argue either that Paul’s comments are ‘culturally conditioned’ (which would involve denying the inspiration of the text), culturally relative or that he is not imposing a law. The first argument can be ignored by orthodox Catholics but the second two may be addressed. It seems clear from St Paul’s words that he is dealing with apostolic tradition “maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you“, that the disciplne is derived from fundamental anthropological and theological considerations “the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God“, that the guardians of right worship are offended by the non-observance of the custom “because of the angels” and that it is universal and binding “we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God“.

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Whether it is still enshrined in ecclesiastical positive law is irrelevant.  If it is of Divine Law it is binding. In the past even the Holy See has invalidly attempted to dispense Divine Law so the fact the Holy See is not enforcing this law at present is of no great theological significance.

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