Priest removes 6,000 people from church

Fr. Jelinic with saintly remains

Granted, he did so over the course of a few years, but it’s still a high number. What crimes did these people commit?

Father Marijan Jelinic is priest of the church of St. Blaise in Vodnjan, Croatia. It is located in Istria, the destination of many tourists in summer. The church contains many relics and the priest thinks these remains of saints deserve all due respect. He is right, of course, and that is at the root of the reason that he expelled so many from the church. People, often tourists in their summer clothing, need to be properly dressed when they enter a sacred place. In a Catholic church not only the remains of saints are present, but most importantly, Jesus Christ Himself is. That fact alone should influence the way we behave when in a church. That is part of the reason why people usually limit themselves to whispering, for example (even if they’re not really aware of it). What is less known, I think, is that a dress code is also assumed.

People don’t need to dress up to the nines before stepping across the threshold of a church, of course, but short or revealing clothing are usually a big no. This article, from which I got the information above, mentions a dress code that was not respected. If Fr. Jelinic had placed signs at the door, explaining appropriate attire, he is totally right when he asks people who don’t abide to leave. That’s what they do in Rome as well. No shorts or revealing tops at St. Peter’s, please. If it’s frowned upon there, why not in any other Catholic church in the world?

I think that these rules actually add to the experience of attending Mass, or even just visiting a church. The realisation that this is some special place you are visiting is all the easier to reach when you have to go through some effort to do so. And that realisation could, God willing, grow into a fuller one: you are not just in a special place, but in the most special place, where Christ is physically among us, where our salvation is within arm’s reach, so to speak.

Of course, Fr. Jelinic has his share of opposition. People say he scares away young people with his draconian measures. Well, I highly doubt that. I think that a priest who has the guts to be clear and enforce certain simple rules gets more respect, especially from young people, than one who goes with every flow.

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incaelo

I'm a 36-year-old lay Catholic from the diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden. I write about the Catholic Church in the Netherlands. I not only enjoy bringing selected developments to the attention of readers, but I also think that it is sometimes important to allow a wider audience to read about the state of the Church in the Netherlands. That's why a fair number of posts about that topic will be translations of Dutch articles, episcopal writings and whatever else.

6 thoughts on “Priest removes 6,000 people from church”

  1. When I was about twelve years old, I was told shorts are not appropriate dress for going into town. Since that day I have always worn trousers whenever I went into town, even when it was extremely hot, not only in Amsterdam, where I live, but also on holiday. In Venice I once witnessed tourists disembarking on Piazza San Marco wearing nothing but trunks(!). They were immediately fined by the police. When going into town dressed in shorts (or worse) is deemed inappropriate (al least in polite society), how much more inappropriate is it to enter a church in revealing clothes? People don’t learn what is appropriate and what is not all by themselves: they need to be told. That’s why I lift my hat for Fr. Jelinic (which I remove when entering church anyway).

    1. Really? No shorts ever? I’ve been known to wear them in hot days, but generally I simply find normal trousers more comfortable. I make sure I wear decent clothes when going to church, and I try to wear something approaching Sunday clothing on Sundays (depending on what’s in the washing, and what isn’t)..

      1. Truth be told, I don’t really feel comfortable wearing shorts into town. A pair of light cotton trousers, on the other hand, is quite comfortable. I only wear shorts when they are appropriate dress. Call me conservative or old-fashioned if you like…

  2. Sommige mensen heb ik inderdaad moeten verzoeken het kerkgebouw te verlaten. Er waren er bij die alleen in korte broek aan kwamen zetten, en de bovenbouw hadden ontbloot. Dit kan echt niet in een Godshuis. Ik ben er daarom een voorstander van dat er op elke kerkdeur een bordje komt zoals boven aangegeven…

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