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Priests hit out at bikini-wearing visitors

Matthew Warren · 19 Aug 2011, 11:40

Published: 19 Aug 2011 10:35 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Aug 2011 11:40 GMT+02:00

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Churches across France have become overrun by tourists in skimpy beachwear, showing off bare stomachs and wearing baseball caps, according to priests who have spoken out about the drop in standards.

A report in regional newspaper Midi Libre claims that religious leaders have tired of the increasingly disrespectful dress codes of some visitors.

“Our church is right by the beach,” said Father Martin Gabet of the Notre Dame des Anges de Collioure church, close to the Spanish border. “As a result, lots of people come in wearing their swimwear. There have even been people who come in just to change their clothes.”

It’s the same story in the jetset resort of Saint-Tropez, according to Father Michel Hayes.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” he told the newspaper, commenting that many come in with “baseball caps nailed to their heads” and then set about “having picnics on the pews.”

“We are in a society where people go unthinkingly from the beach to a museum, from a fast-food restaurant to a cathedral,” said Monsignor Bernard Podvin, a spokesman for the bishops’ association, Conférence des évêques de France.

Nor is Lyon's impressive basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, which dominates France’s second-largest city, immune to visitors' sloppy manners and sartorial peccadilloes.

Its rector told the newspaper that some visitors walk in “smoking or with their dogs” and are happy to “show off their bare backs, bare stomachs and even their pierced belly buttons.” He added that some wander around “as if they were in a train station.”

In the north-west town of Rouen, church administrators think they have found a solution. Visitors pass by staff who are able to give “remarks and reflections” on their attire before they enter into the main part of the cathedral.

“It might seem a bit uncivilized, but it’s proven to be really effective,” said Dominique Canu, a cathedral manager.


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

2011-08-31 03:25:02 by DavidtheNorseman
Perhaps: "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service!" :-) Signage might help but one will still need an attendant and fines to enforce it.... Respect for the sacred is a learned thing (whether it's putting on or taking off headgear or shoes). If I'm in someone else's house isn't it right that I should respect their values (if what is required is too objectionable to me I don't have to go into their house)?
2011-08-30 12:10:13 by forsdavg
Has the Monsignor not been to many Catholic cathederals? As a non believer even I have seen a few. Could all those unadorned statues and beautifully painted ceilings covered in naked bodies have been an apparition only to me. Picnics in the pews would surely be a wonderful way to reintroduce his ever dwindling flock back inside. It may change the image of something that was created to force people to live in fear. Possibly, but the Exodus won't be turning back ...
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