VATICAN CITY, July 27 (UPI) -- The Vatican is enforcing a longstanding dress code, with Swiss Guard officers pulling aside tourists and others to tell them when they're showing too much skin.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported Tuesday the rules on modest dress, previously applied only to those visiting St Peter's Basilica, are now being invoked at the official customs point between Rome and the walled Catholic enclave.
Men in shorts and women with exposed knees or uncovered shoulders were all stopped by the guards and asked if they knew "how things worked here," ANSA said. Even locals were caught off-guard, assuming some new edict had been issued.
"This is the Vatican City and for reasons of respect, you are not allowed in with uncovered shoulders or wearing shorts," was the standard explanation, the news agency said.
The change in enforcement sent women looking for shawls and scarves, and men looking for trousers.
One woman in her late 70s, identified only as Maria, didn't take kindly to being told her calf-length flowered dress was "inappropriate" because her shoulders were uncovered.
"Given all the scandals the church has been involved in, what possible right can it have to be preaching about the morality of sleeveless dresses?" ANSA quoted her as saying loudly after the guards relented and let her pass.