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Could You Show Your Sources on Dances?
We Doubt Them

Note to the Reader: In the last 10 days TIA has received two demanding questions on dances, placing in doubt our sources. We ignore whether the two objectors are in league or if their requests on the same theme coming in a short frame of time is just a coincidence. In any circumstance, we will answer both of them, one after another, in this posting. TIA

St. Charles Borromeo’s Quote

Dear TIA,

I read an article you published on the subject of dances and balls. You quoted St. Charles Borromeo, and I would like to read the actual words of this saint.

However, I don't know where to find the source. If you could direct me to a sermon or other written work by St. Charles (containing his thoughts on dancing), I would be most grateful.

     In Christ,


TIA responds:

Dear J.B.,

The quote of St. Charles Borromeo is not ours, but of Card. Pedro Segura y Saenz, who is an authority in himself and a known representative of Catholic orthodoxy. Therefore, for us it is sufficient to quote him. The selection of texts on dance made by Card. Segura can be found not only in Portuguese, from which we translate it, but also in Spanish.

However, to show you and our readers our good will and also to confirm the good doctrine of Card. Segura, we did our best to attend to your request and found the mentioned quote by St. Charles Borromeo. Unfortunately we did not find it in English, but only in Latin and French.

Since you seem to be quite demanding, if we quote the Saint’s words in English, you may also dispute our translation, so we will give you first his text in Latin:

"Novissime Conradus Aingius in suo Catechismo Catholico . 4. c. 12. Chorea mundana, inquit, habet hanc definitionem, quod est circulus, cujus centrum est Diabolus, & cujus circumferentia Angeli ejus circumstantes: & ideo raro vel nunquam sine peccato sit. Talem Choream ordinavit Sathan, post adorationem vituli, &c. Hæc ille. Sequitur vero ostendens omnia peccata in Choreis versari, neque aliquem, licet continentem & sanctum, ab eis di scedere sine peccato aliaque multa enumerat ab eis proficiscentia."

This text can be found in St. Charles’ Opusculum de Choream et Spectaculis (Booklet on Dances and Spectacles); the exact text we used from this work can be found here.

Our English translation follows:

"Lastly, Conrad of Aingius in his Catechism Catholico 4. c. 12. ‘The worldly dance,’ he says, ‘has this definition: it is a circle in the center of which is the Devil, and in its circumference are his angels surrounding him: and therefore it is seldom or never without sin. Satan ordered such type of dance after the adoration of the calf, &c.’ This is he. He goes on to show that all sins are involved in dances, and that no one, even if he is chaste and holy, can depart from them without sin, and he enumerates many other things proceeding from them."

In the case you are not familiar with Latin, you may find the French translation of the full work by St. Charles Borromeo here.

We hope this satisfies your request.


     TIA correspondence desk


Condemnation of Ballet


In one of your articles (this one) you say that some theologians condemned ballet as immoral. I don't doubt it but it would be nice to see the actual source and quote to be able to show someone.

Could you please show me a few of them?

Specifically, the parts in that article I wanted to see sources for were these:

"When one considers the kinds of dances condemned in the 1920s and 1930s – the waltz, polka, ballet and masquerade balls..."

"Looking at more contemporary times, Ortolan and other theologians condemn the performing arts, such as ballet, that involve tight clothing, pastel or skin colored apparel and revealing or transparent dresses. Such attire alone is deemed a grave sin against modesty and this is often compounded by the illicit and immoral positions and movements that are part of the dance itself."

I have seen sources for the Waltz being condemned but not for Ballet, which is what I was specifically looking for.

     Thank you.


Dr. Horvat responds:

Hello A.B.,

... My only comment is that sometimes you can provide every proof and demonstration, and it makes no difference for a person with bad will. He or she wants to believe it is good, and so it is.

It seems very obvious to me today that the clothing worn by the ballet dancers, which exposes the whole bodies of men and women, as well as the positions, which encourage immodesty in women and are often obscene in mixed ballet, should be enough for a Catholic to have reservations about watching it, if not completely reject it. It is an argument based on common sense, particularly since it has become a milieu for the sodomites.

But these are not the arguments you want. I doubt the others will have any effect on your friends who are convinced it is good, but I will still ask our TIA researcher to try to find it, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to you that such proof exists.


     Marian T. Horvat


A.B. replies:


I see. Thank you, I appreciate that.

In what language are the sources? For example, Ortolan? I know Spanish, if any are in that language.

What is that theologian's full name?

I understand the bad will aspect, but I still wanted to have something specific against ballet.

If it would not be too much to ask, I would also be interested in seeing sources for the "honest, less honest and dishonest" parts of the body that you mention in another article. I have a moral theology book that uses that terminology but it doesn't specify any category, and I really think that that is something that needs to be specified and not simply mentioned because this is simply something that it not taught anymore, and laypeople can't really be expected to know where to look for or find these things.

If you know of some moral theology books in English/Spanish where I can find this information online, like at, I could do my own research, but I don't know where to look.

I appreciate the quick reply.

     Have a great weekend.


TIA responds:

Hello A.B.,

The full name of the theologian is in the first article to which you linked in your initial email. It is Fr. Theophile-Marie Ortolan, O.M.I. He wrote for the French Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique (DTC) under the entry Dance. This work is not translated to English or Spanish.

We took snapshots of the French texts here and here, which we retrieved from the online version of the DTC here on Google Books (p. 110 and pp. 112-113). Our English translations of the parts that generically apply to all dances follow:

"Many times the Fathers of the Church spoke out vehemently against dances. They reproved dances such as they were practiced too often in their time, lascivious and dangerous dances which the expiring paganism had left, in the 4th and 5th centuries, as a ferment of corruption inside Christian society. According to the pagans themselves, [the character of] these dances were of a revolting obscenity."

Speaking of the dance Salomé performed in front of King Herod, he notes: "The poses of the dancer, deliberately provocative, were skillfully calculated so as to produce the greatest possible seduction on the fascinated minds of the spectators."

This last part is significant, especially when one considers that most of the poses in ballet are provocative and extremely inconvenient.

Regarding the costumes of the dance, which is relevant to our topic, since ballet costumes are meant to be skimpy and show off the body of the dancer as much as possible, Fr. Ortolan goes to great lengths to attack ballet in particular:

“Costume. One of the elements to study, in the first place, to judge the morality or immorality of a dance is unquestionably the costume, considering the innumerable temptations to which an indecent costume exposes others, and the sins of sight or desire that it can cause to be committed.

1. We will point out here only for memory those abominable dances which in Italy are called ballo angelico [angelic ball], in which the nakedness is total. Dances of this kind are obviously immoral, and there is no reason to indulge in them or even to attend them as a mere spectator.

“2. The same must be said of those [dances] where the costume is so unseemly that it seems a direct provocation to evil. Certain theatrical dancers, for example, have clothing, it is true, but chosen and made in such a way as to excite the passions rather than quell them: with soft pink or pale yellow fabric in order to make it resemble as much as possible the very color of the flesh, and adhering so closely to the body that it clearly outlines all its forms.

In this category of extremely dangerous dances, because of the costume adopted, it is necessary to place, in general, the ballets of operas, where troupes of dancers appear in costume that is more than negligent [superficial/scanty]: widely low-cut bodice revealing the greater part of the chest; arms fully uncovered; legs covered with a jersey; for the dress alone, the tutu, or extremely short light gauze skirt not even reaching the knees, which, as if it were already too long, rises as if by itself in the rapid whirlwind of the dance. The exhibition of actresses in such attire presents, independent of the dance itself, a grave danger to morality. Dance certainly increases this danger, but does not positively constitute it. These [spectacles of] nakedness are spread out in full light only to attract more easily and better hold the favor of a public jaded [unbothered] by the unhealthy enjoyments, but always avid for pleasures."

The condemnation of ballet here could not be clearer.

We hope these texts satisfy your request.

Regarding the other question on the dishonest, less honest and honest parts of the body, also called shameful, semi-shameful and honest parts, the commonly accepted concept of the Church referring to them was this:
  • Dishonest or shameful parts – the genital parts of both woman and man and the woman’s breast;
  • Less honest or semi-shameful parts – the parts of the body that are close to the shameful parts – upper legs, lower belly, lower back, lower neck, upper arms – or the parts that insinuate the shameful parts, such us the woman’s legs.
  • Honest parts – are those that do not produce any problem for the custody of the eyes.

TIA correspondence desk
Posted on June 13, 2023

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