Naturism/nudism – may Catholics join?

There is absolutely nothing wrong in Catholics (or other Christians) being nudists or naturists.

Masolino da Panicale 1383-1447
Masolino da Panicale



Naturism – called ‘nudism’ in the USA – means living and playing free of clothes in sheltered surroundings.

Nudism celebrates the beauty of the human body. It is our profound Christian belief that God has created us as we are, and that our human bodies, as they are, should be

enjoyed and taken care of as God’s precious gifts.

Nudism also celebrates our human freedom. Discarding clothes is highly symbolic of liberating one self from conventions, unwarranted restraints and anxieties. “For freedom Christ has made us free!” (Galatians 5,1).

We know from the Gospels that Jesus himself and the Apostles felt no false shame in laying off their dress (see for instance John 21,7). Jesus and his followers must have washed themselves in the Jordan or other ponds, undressing as they did so. Also, people were baptised naked.

For a good Catholic nothing is more natural than being a good naturist.
See also nakedness.

Questions . . .

Are nudist / naturist places not morally objectionable?
Most naturist / nudist clubs and spaces enforce high standards of public morality. Children are protected. Obscene acts of any kind are taboo. Naked bodies come in all shapes, ages and sizes. They are not more sensual than bodies wearing swimsuits or summer dresses.

Are there many Catholic naturists / nudists?
For obvious reasons this is difficult to calculate. However, we know that about 10 million Europeans enjoy naturist holidays in summer. Other data show that quite a few naturists are Catholics, some regular massgoers. This makes observers estimate that the number of naturist Catholics in Europe will be about a million.

And what about children?
A naturist environment can be the ideal setting for families. As children grow up, they acquire a healthy attitude towards nature, their own bodies, other people and sexuality. This is far removed from the anxious, stifling, negative values given to children during the Jansenistic days of the past. Parents help their children most by frankly discussing all aspects of human sexuality, imparting a sense of respect and responsibility.

What are the dangers of communal naturist living?

While most naturists are good and honest people, the situation of openness and trust can be exploited by sexual predators. As always, parents need to be on their guard.

John Wijngaards