The Pope is reportedly urging that priests should “urgently rediscover the need to be ‘present, identifiable and recognizable for their faith, their personal virtues and their attire.’ ” Now granted I am Lutheran and not Roman Catholic, but I applaud this move and think it should be adopted by clergy across Christendom. There seems to be good sense in, if not dressing professionally, than at least dressing the part. So many clergy eschew the traditional vestments as well as the simple but distinctive clergy shirt. Personally, I think short sleeve clergy shirts are downright casual and never wear them with a suit or for worship services.
Pope urges priests to wear smarter outfits
Priests need to return to wearing smarter outfits that mark them out as clergy, says Pope
Richard Owen in Rome
March 19, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI, who is noted for his revival of strikingly colourful traditional papal vestments, has urged Catholic priests to shun casual or scruffy attire and return to wearing smart outfits which clearly mark them out as clergy.
The Pope, who is currently visiting Cameroon and Angola, has announced a special “year of the priest” beginning on June 19. Addressing the Congregation for the Clergy before setting out of Africa he said that to encourage ”spiritual perfection” among clerics, priests should “urgently rediscover the need to be ”present, identifiable and recognizable for their faith, their personal virtues and their attire”.
A spokesman for Bardiconi, an ecclesiastical outfitters in Rome, said ”With the new Pope we had already noted a certain return to the classic look and a drop in sales of casual clothes”. He told La Repubblica that sales of cassocks have been going up at Easter and Christmas, adding that a good cassock or soutane should last a priest ”up to 20 years”.
Another outfitters for clergy, Mastranzo, said ”Around 30 per cent of priests dress in a scruffy manner and don’t even pay attention to the colour of their clothes.’ It said 40 per cent opted for a simple outfit of black trousers, jacket and shirt with a dog collar, and only 30 per cent wore old fashioned ankle-length cassocks with a tri-crested biretta hat.
However Mastranzo said cassocks were now making a comeback, and were especially favoured by conservative orders such as Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ.
The “year of the priest” marks the 150th anniversary of the death of St Jean Marie Vianney, the “Curate of Ars” in France, who was canonised by Pius XI in 1925 and declared to be the patron saint of the clergy.
The Pope, who as a cardinal was not noted for his fashion sense, has shown a marked penchant for traditional styles of dress since his election as Pope four years ago, including the medieval caumaro, a fur-trimmed woollen stocking cap, and red velvet cape trimmed with ermine, both of which he wears at Christmas. He has also revived the wide brimmed saturno hat, or cappello romano.
However the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has denied that the bright red shoes the Pope sometimes wears are made by Prada. “Such rumours are inconsistent with the simple and sombre man who, on the day of his election to the papacy, showed to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square and to the whole world the sleeves of a modest black sweater” the paper said.