Priests and their habits

Fewer garment have been more hated by modernists and progressivists than the cassock.

In Rome, it is particular law that priests, first and foremost, should wear the cassock.  This was affirmed even in the 1980’s when Card. Poletti was the Vicar.

In the Directory for Priests the cassock is given first as the manner of dress especially in administration of the sacraments and other duties.

In the USA it would not the custom for secular priests to wear the cassock on the street.  It was once the Church’s particular law in the USA for priests rather to wear the frock coat (secular dress) outside the parish or place of work.  In England, I believe it is still illegal for Catholic priests to wear the cassock on the street.

This is in from ANSA.  My emphases:

Pope asks priests to smarten up
Clerics should be more ‘recognisable’

(ANSA) – Vatican City, March 17 – Priests are under pressure to smarten up their wardrobes after Pope Benedict XVI made an apparent dig at members of the clergy who have been dressing rather too casually.

Declaring a ‘year of the priest’ that will begin on June 19 in a bid to encourage ”spiritual perfection” among clerics, the pope stressed that priests should be ”present, identifiable and recognisable for their faith, their personal virtues and their attire”.

According to Naples-based ecclesiastical outfitters Mastranzo, the pontiff has a point.

Around 30% of priests dress in a (casual) scruffy manner and don’t even pay attention to the colour of their clothes,” a spokesman told Italian daily La Repubblica.

Of the remaining better-dressed clerics, around 40% opt for the black trousers, jacket and shirt with a dog collar combination, while the remaining 30% choose to wear ankle-length cassocks, which should be topped with a tri-crested hat.  [An Italian nickname for the biretta is "tricorno", which is where that "tri-crested" comes from.  However, the priest may also wear the practical "cappello romano"or "saturno"]

Mastranzo said that there has been a recent upturn in requests for cassocks, which are especially favoured by religious members of the Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ orders.   [ugh… no need to mention either of them.  I think this is more a young diocesan seminarian and younger priest phenomenon.]

Bardiconi, an outfitters in Rome, said the tradition-loving pontiff’s influence has already made itself felt among customers.

”With the new pope we had already noted a certain return to the classic look and a drop in casual clothes,” it said.

Sales of cassocks have been going up at Easter and Christmas, according to the shop, which said that a good cassock could last a priest ”up to 20 years”.  [When it is well-made, tailored, not the sort of rubbish one usually finds made in the USA.]


There is a connection between the word "habit" (stable interior disposition) and "habit" (distinctive clothing).

Clothes don’t make the man?  Clothes make the man?

I’m just askin’

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  1. I just love seeing priests with cassocks! Its extremely beautiful and inspirational!

  2. TJM says:

    The return of the cassock would be a very welcome thing. It is counter-cultural and a powerful witness to the priesthood. Tom

  3. Fr. Charles says:

    Cucullus non facit monachum for sure, but it does make a difference what you wear. Speaking to the issue mutatis mutandis as a member of a largely clerical religious order, I can say that most of our members do not wear their habits as the ordinary clothing that it is meant to be, and it helps you if you wish to compartmentalize your life when you feel like it. In some ways the habit has become a ceremonial or liturgical custom, which it isn’t meant to be. I started wearing the habit more when I was in studies, and it does help the formation of the interior habitus. Only once in five years of riding the Boston subways in my habit did anyone ever abuse me, and it was only verbal.

  4. Father Bartoloma says:

    The cassock really is most the distinctly Catholic attire for a cleric. The clerical shirt does not mean as much; I’ve seen Protestant women ministers in clerical shirts.

  5. Luiz says:

    “In England, I believe it is still illegal for Catholic priests to wear the cassock on the street.”

    Illegal? Why?!

    Here in Brazil it is very rare to see a priest wearing his cassock. It is also very common to ask “who is the priest” among other people, because many wear the same clothes a lay person would wear.

    PS.: There is a problem in the layout. I guess a tag remained open while editing the last post, so all the page appears in bold.

  6. Luiz says:

    Now the text is OK.

  7. Fr Ray Blake says:

    As a friend of mine who used to teach pastoral theology in our diocesan seminary used to say: “won’t wear”, often means “don’t care”.

  8. Brian Crane says:

    I’d love to see our local priest in a cassock, but I’d be thrilled with even a collar after years of jeans, polo shirts, and T-shirts.

  9. Simon says:

    I’ve seen plenty (well, some) priests in the UK wear cassocks in public – even in a shop! A bishop here and there, a friar in full choir dress once too! Is this a Church requirement that priests don’t wear their cassocks in the street, or a secular one? Although having said that, it certainly could be illegal, but they do it anyway!

  10. Maria says:

    I love the cassock look. I was not around when they were worn
    in the past but when I see a cassock I see a ‘Priest’.
    Its very disappointing to see a priest without his collar on.
    It seems to me that its even worse than when a married person
    removes their ring.

    It gives the impression that they are ashamed of their vows.

  11. Ken says:

    Brick-by-brick proposal:
    Step I: Priests dressing in black clerics with collar.
    Step II: Wearing long sleeve clerical shirt, not short sleeve.
    Step III: Wearing full collar, not tab collar.
    Step IV: Wearing full collar with clerical shirt with black buttons down the front.
    Step V: The cassock and full collar.

  12. Father, I didn’t understand your comment about Opus Dei and Legio Christi. I can assure you, father, that in Brazil a priest in cassock is either from apostolic administration, from Opus Dei or from Legio Christi. I can tell you the name of all priests in the city I live that wear a cassock. They are three, one diocesan and two from Opus Dei.

    Particularly, in Brazil, if you see a priest in a cassock, you can bet he is from Opus Dei or Legio Christi, and you can bet high.

  13. Brian Day says:

    A bit OT: How about Nuns and their habits?

    All of the priests of our parish wear black clericals. It is the nuns who work at the parish that do not wear habits. While they dress nicely, if you didn’t know they were sisters, you could not identify them as such.
    (There is a religious order that attends Mass every Sunday and they do wear habits. They just do not work in our parish.)

    While none of the local Norbertines currently work at our parish, you always see them in white cassocks.

  14. Sieber says:

    Black pants, loud shirts, brightly colored suspenders & comfy scuffs described our crew when roaming the parish and school.

  15. Joe says:

    ‘a good cassock could last a priest ‘’up to 20 years‘’’? Nothing I had twenty years ago still fits….

    I am confused by the phrase “religious members of Opus Dei”. Does the writer mean there “as opposed to the irreligious ones”? (which would be awful) or is using the word “religious” in the sense of “member of a religious order”? (which I don’t think refers to the Opus Dei [or the LC for that matter])

  16. Chris says:

    Father, are Catholic Priest in America allowed to wear the cassock on the street or is this illegal?

  17. irishgirl says:

    I love to see priests in their cassocks! Bring ’em on!

    I think you respect them more when they wear ’em!

    I didn’t know it was against the law for a priest to wear the cassock in England….I’ll have to ask a priest friend of mine next time he calls me. He was ordained by JP II in 1982.

  18. Marcin says:

    I love to see cassocks on the streets. It’s such an assuring sign. My Gregorian Schola’s director, also a professor of music in the seminary in Warsaw, Poland, once replied to a seminarian who was whining that he preferred plain clothes rather than a cassock because it can be hot in the summer: “I always take shaded sidewalk!”.

  19. Cel says:

    What is the appropriate dress for permanent deacons? They are clerics so should they wear the collar and black? Is it optional? What about when they are also full time diocese or parish employees?

  20. roxanne says:

    All of our young priests(under 30) wear cassocks. It is so awesome to see. Maybe the JP2 priests will bring it back, here in the US.

  21. Mitch_WA says:

    Cel: as afar as i knows it differs diocese to diocese, but I believe I read somewhere that the Church encourages them to wear clerics if their occupation allows it.

  22. Rosemarie says:

    I went to a deanery meeting at another parish several years ago and when I got there the other ladies when talking to an older man in a gray hooded sweatsuit and dirty sneakers. I thought he was the gardener. Turned out he was the pastor and the gray sweatsuit was his signature attire. I would like to see priests and sisters go back to wearing habits. It is a sign and inspiration to the rest of us who they are and what their relationship to God is. As they dress each day, it should be a sign to them as well so that they live up to their vows…just as my wedding ring is a reminder to me of the vows I have taken and need to live up to!

  23. Rae says:

    SSPX Priests don’t have any problem with wearing their cassocks.

  24. BOB ROUCH says:

    The clothes are nice but it doesn’t get the job done.
    I’m a conservative catholic but in this day and age I would prefer to
    the religious to be on fire with the Holy Spirit and enthusiastic
    about their faith. Drawing in catholics, fall away catholics and
    those who are lost. Teaching and encouraging people to seak the
    way, the truth and the light…Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic
    Church has preserved and taught this truth for 2000 years.
    It’s time to focus on what’s important. [Lest you should think that these things are mutually exclusive, they aren’t.]

  25. The only priest I regularly see in a cassock is our FSSP chaplain. It’s a shame.

    Here is a wonderful cassock encounter I always love to share:

    I was at Philadelpha airport, in between flights, trying to get to my gravely ill parents. I got some lunch in the food court, but so distressed I couldn’t eat. I asked God to please comfort me and calm me down. Right then I looked up, and there came this young priest dressed in a cassock! He sat at a nearby table, blessed his food very solemnly, and began his lunch. He had such a peaceful, calming air about him that it lifted my spirits immediately. It was just good not to feel so alone and helpless! I then said grace and ate my lunch too. After I ate, I felt so much better, and so relieved that I felt like crying, so I went to the ladies’ room. I came back out, intending to thank the priest for his good witness, and for just being there and being recognizable, but he had already taken off by then.

    I have no idea who he was, I don’t clearly remember his face either, but I will never, ever forget him–and I will always remember him in my prayers!

  26. Fr J says:

    There used to be a UK law about only clergy of the “established” Church being able to wear a cassock in the street and certainly it was an anti-Catholic law. But that was many years ago and under new Laws including the “freedom to practice religion” etc, one would be hard pressed to enforce it. But that is why there was such a lapse in clerical dress in the UK for so many years – not just modernist largesse but old penal custom too.

  27. Terry says:

    Our former pastor shared with me a story involving the cassock that I think would be worth sharing here. This experience had a profound affect on this good priest and how he views his cassock.

    It seems one day Father was walking down a street in our town and as he walked he saw an old Vietnamese man standing in the middle of the sidewalk staring at him. As he drew closer to the man he saw the old gentleman was shedding a torrent of tears.

    He stopped to ask the old man if he was okay and whether he might need some help.
    The old man apologized for causing the priest concern and then explained to him.

    “Father”, he said, “when the communists took over my country, they went first looking for the priests. All our priests wore cassocks so they were easy to spot and in no time they were all gone.” He then went on “Father, it’s been thirty years since they took the priests away from us. You are the first priest I’ve seen wearing a cassock since that time.”

    What a wonderful testimony to those brave priests of Vietnam and to the catholicity of our Faith.

  28. Brian says:

    Beautiful story, Terry. Yes, I hope and pray that more and more priests and seminarians will wear the cassock as often as possible.

  29. ADV says:

    “Fewer garment have been more hated by modernists and progressivists than the cassock”

    I would add amongst some members of the public too! As a seminarian dressed in cassock and collar I was spat and sworn at during a visit home in the south of Ireland (in the mid 1990’s). Affects the man ‘in it’ too; cannot but do it really. You really are reminded what you stand for.

  30. During the Second World War, seminarians were encouraged to wear the cassock whenever they left the grounds. In those days, a young man of draft age could be stopped by anyone with a son or loved one fighting overseas, and be asked why he wasn’t in uniform as would have been required of him. Wearing clericals made for less explaining.

    Something my father told me from his seminary days.

    As to the hat, I’d go for the black fedora with the clerical suit, maybe a straw boater in the summer. It makes for a distinctive appearance, for those occasions where a suit is called for.

    When I go home to Cincinnati, I rarely see a priest in a collar, except for the younger ones. (Father Fox, if you’re out there, I’ll vouch for ya.) Then when I return to Arlington, Virginia, I see priests in cassocks even during the weekdays. I can’t complain. Then again, when I’m serving and am seen in cassock with or without surplice, I’m often mistaken for a priest. “No, I’m a layman. You can call me sir.”

  31. PNP, OP says:

    I served time in the CPE program at the St Louis University Hospital in the summer of 2002. I was maliciously persecuted by three Dominican sisters and a cabal of Prot “ministers” for wearing my OP habit. Despite their liberal, welcoming rhetoric they daily ridiculed me and refused to work with me, citing the habit as their primary reason. The fact that the Franciscan priest wore rainbow suspenders and the UCC “priestess” wore her pink triangle button seem not to bother anyone at all. My Dominican habit, however, proved to be THE issue of the summer course. When I called them on their egregious hypocrisy they howled bloodly murder and worked feverishly to amend the STLU hospital policy to forbid religious garb in the pastoral ministry office. Under the bogus pretense of “safety” they succeed in outlawing religious habits. I would encourage all bishops to seriously reconsider the requirement that seminarians complete the liberal Prot indoctrination called “Clinical Pastoral Education.” Fr. Philip, OP

  32. Charivari Rob says:

    This topic brings back fond memories of my childhood pastor. A good and kind man (+RIP), I’m pretty sure the only non-clerical garb he owned (that I ever saw, anyway) was one lightweight, light color, cotton pants, shirt, and sunhat that he would don to go tend his garden.

  33. Thomas says:

    It would be good to start adopting the Cassock again. Many groups like the Episcopalians regulary wear the roman collar and black suit. Sort of makes it hard in Public when you say Father and your not sure if they are catholic or another Christian.

  34. Jay says:

    Cassocks and habits for priests and religious (respectively) are blessed so that they will be a help to save the person’s soul. It’s not just about what the person looks like or the style of dress. It’s a matter of being linked to a way of life and a vocation by means of a very powerful sacramental:

    The Blessing of a Cassock from the 1964 Rituale Romanum

    A candidate for holy orders, who has obtained permission to wear
    the clerical cassock, may wish to have this garment blessed. The
    clerical aspirant, holding the cassock folded over his
    outstretched arms, kneels before the priest.

    P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
    All: Who made heaven and earth.
    P: The Lord be with you.
    All: May He also be with you.

    Let us pray.
    Lord Jesus Christ, who condescended to clothe yourself in our
    mortal nature, we beg you in your boundless goodness to bless +
    this cassock which the holy fathers have sanctioned as the garb
    for clerics, in token of the innocence and humility which should
    be theirs. Laying aside the vanity of secular garb, may these
    servants (this servant) of yours, who are (is) to wear the
    cassock, likewise put on you, and be recognized as men (a man)
    dedicated to your service. We ask this of you who are God, living
    and reigning forever and ever.
    All: Amen.

    The cassock is sprinkled with holy water.

  35. Dave Pawlak says:

    In the USA, the clerical suit has been preferred public dress for priests for quite a long time, even with religious priests. I remember seeing old pictures (1930’s)of the Franciscans in my boyhood parish wearing the clerical suit instead of the habit.

  36. Papabile says:

    It was one of the Councils of Baltimore which mandated the frock coat.

    However, not many people are aware that particular law in the united stated concerning the cassock was recently modified just 10 years ago in 1998…..

    On November 18, 1998, the Latin Rite de iure members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved complementary legislation for canon 284 of the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States.

    The action was granted recognitio by the Congregation for Bishops in accord with article 82 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus and issued by decree of the Congregation for Bishops signed by His Eminence Lucas Cardinal Moreira Neves, Prefect, and His Excellency Most Reverend Franciscus Monterisi, Secretary, and dated September 29, 1999.

    Complementary Norm: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 284, hereby decrees that without prejudice to the provisions of canon 288, clerics are to dress in conformity with their sacred calling.

    In liturgical rites, clerics shall wear the vesture prescribed in the proper liturgical books. Outside liturgical functions, a black suit and Roman collar are the usual attire for priests. The use of the cassock is at the discretion of the cleric.

    In the case of religious clerics, the determinations of their proper institutes or societies are to be observed with regard to wearing the religious habit.
    As President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby decree that the effective date of this decree for all the Latin Rite dioceses in the United States will be December 1, 1999.

    Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, on November 1, 1999.

    Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza
    Bishop of Galveston-Houston
    President, NCCB
    Reverend Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr
    General Secretary

  37. AJP says:

    About 10 years ago I was visiting London and saw an Anglican clergywoman
    wearing a black cassock right outside St. Paul’s. I didn’t know it was
    illegal for Roman Catholics to wear cassocks in Britain, but that lady
    needed to be arrested – by the fashion police! It looked just awful. I
    never would have thought that a long, flowing, robe with a flare at the bottom
    would look so unflattering and unfeminine on a woman, but there you have it.
    I’ve noticed the same thing with kilts on women too. Some clothing which
    one might think of as feminine because it resembles a skirt or dress,
    is actually very masculine and looks very odd on women.

  38. Peter says:

    When I was in Switzerland and asked one Jesuit priest there why he does not wear neither collar nor cassock (I think he does not even have a cssock),he told me people on the street would automatically consider him an SSPX priest if he wore one.

  39. Jerry says:

    Most of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, here in Boston, wear cassocks.

    Many people are unaware that trousers are a thing brought by pagan Germanic barbarians. Cassocks are much more appropriate to ROMAN Catholics.

  40. Ruben says:

    I almost think the cassock might be more for the faithful than for the priest, in a manner of speaking.

    I have a very vivid memory from a time during the 20 years I had fallen away from the faith and mass attendance. I remember one day going to a men’s clothing store and seeing two priests in black cassocks leaving the store. Two thoughts entered into my mind. One was “these guys must be really, really serious about what they believe” and the other thought was a dead serious sense of “ugh, that reminds me, my soul has an eternal destiny”.

    That image and those thoughts have lingered in my mind to this day. As I reflect on that now I realize that their visible priestly signs effected in some way the imparting of an actual grace from God to have affected me that way. It might be part of the reason I began to re-examine my beliefs and get myself back to mass and the sacraments after more than 2 decades. Thanks be to God. God bless priestly signs.

  41. PriestOnTheMystery says:

    A few days ago I met a police officer. It struck me how much the uniform said for the officer without words. He commanded respect, he meant business, he was on top things. he could be trusted, he believed in what he was doing. Police on duty need this because they meet so many different people and they have to be there for so many people, they do not have time to explain and to make their identity believed.

    As a priest wearing the cassock says to people that I am on duty, I am ready to serve them, and I am ready to pray. I think that wearing a cassock says that I am at work for God but because of the impractical nature of a robe for work, I am at leisure to help them.

    Also I would think long and hard about taking my cassock off, so I could see a questionable movie. When I have to go somewhere like a store where I feel uncomfortable being seen as a priest, I admit that I switch to clerics!

  42. Y says:

    I just love seeing priests with cassocks! Its extremely beautiful and inspirational!
    I so agree, it touches my heart when I see a priest in a cassock, how I wish they all wore them.
    That said, I regretfully have to agree with the quote: “The clothes are nice but it doesn’t get the job done.” I’ve had one experience with it being more a case of attempting to be holy from the outside in. I say that regretfully, as I love and pray for our priests, and I myself am very far from perfect, but I believe that what points to Our Lord better is the way we treat others, more than by what clothing is worn.

  43. Chris says:

    You’ll never see an FSSP, ICKSP or SSPX priest walking the American streets in anything but a cassock. And I don’t think they’re “illegal.” Also, for seculars, I know plenty who wouldn’t dare wear a suit. They’re always in cassock.

  44. Tominellay says:

    The priests in our parish wear their cassocks only once or twice a year. They look great on those occasions, and I always let them know…

  45. Luigi says:

    Clothing matters quite a bit, and it’s not just external perception.

    May sound strange, but I can tell you from experience that an individual dreesed in business attire will come off more professionally in a telephone conversation than that same person does when dressed casually.

    Rabbit hole? I hope not, but I’ll take my lashes if it is. : )

    I think it’s a travesty that there are thousands of members of the sacred hierarchy roaming all over the place incognito. I am speaking of permanent deacons. As a group, many don’t seem to know who they are in Christ, (in my experience) but simply encouraging them to wear clerical dress as often as possible can only help. Besides, the faithful deserve to know who the clergy are, IMO.

  46. Ben Newman says:

    Diocesan priests in the United States have the right to wear the cassock everywhere, and they should wear it. In places like Boston, you find some pastors and chancery priests who despise the cassock. But they also despise the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the writings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, the hierarchical structure of the church, the rosary and the Eucharist. These such priests, when you talk to them, seem more like hippies from the 60s and the 70s (and the 80s).

    On the contrary, priests here who wear the cassock love the Catechism, the pope, the hierarchical strcture of the Church, the rosary and the Eucharist. They come across as intelligent and charitable.

  47. It is Eastern tradition for priests to dress as monastics (cassock, pectoral cross). +Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Church of America, has been for the last thirty years at the forefront of evangelization here, although some of his methods have annoyed. He is called by many a “modernist” because he requires his priests to wear suits and clerical collars in public, rather than traditional dress. This, my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, is “modernism” in Orthodoxy. We do have a Oprah Church movement, but it is very small, and nobody takes them seriously.

    I seriously doubt, however, that +Philip would approve of his priests in jeans and T-shirts, unless they were at the gym.

  48. Sean P. Dailey says:

    “Mastranzo said that there has been a recent upturn in requests for cassocks, which are especially favoured by religious members of the Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ orders. [ugh… no need to mention either of them. I think this is more a young diocesan seminarian and younger priest phenomenon.]”

    Why not mention them? In all the liturgical chaos of the past 40 years, one constant has been the traditional black cassocks worn by Opus Dei priests. Their priests also have exquisite vestments, including, yes, black vestments for requiem Masses.

    On a side note, I don’t know what juridical status the LC has, but the article got one thing wrong: Opus Dei is NOT an order and its priests are not religious. They are secular priests.

  49. Brian says:

    I actually made a cassock for myself a while back (I am a moderately large man, 6’1″ with a 52″ chest and a 19″ neck, a little fat but mostly it’s just general hugeness). I use it in liturgical settings, but not as dress. I am a seminarian, about to enter theology, but my diocese does not permit us to wear clerics before our deaconate except when it is our school’s expected garb, which is really no big deal to me (though getting used to the sense of public identity associated with wearing clerics has its merits, IMHO).

    I think I might use my cassock as dress from time to time once I am ordained, though I do admit a concern for not scandalizing my future brother priests. I would never doff clerics period for that purpose, nor go from a full collar to a tab all the time (maybe use tabs in more informal settings or if the others are dirty), but I also don’t want to be a sign of ideological division or choose to wear it out of vanity.

    Also, I would have to probably make another cassock were I to use it as clothing, since the collar is too big in the one I already made (a slightly smaller neck and I’ll be golden)

  50. David Osterloh says:

    Just watched the Quiet Man with John Wayne and Moreen O’Hara, The older priest was always wearing a suit with Roman Collar and Fedora but the younger one was in a cassock, the scene with him running to get Father O’Mally was a riot, good movie, wish Priests would dress up either way, but at least dress up! By the same token, I don’t blame any Priest who on a hiking vacation would dress appropriately for hiking ect.

  51. Dennis says:

    I wish I could see the priest in my parish wear a cassock at least once. I been here 26 years and still have not seen a cassock.

  52. Bos Mutissimus says:

    As for clothes making the man, recall Clint Eastwood’s line in Heartbreak Ridge (as GySgt Highway) on the connection between Marine-like appearance & Marine-like conduct:

    “When you start looking like Marines, you’ll start feeling like Marines, and pretty soon G——–, you’ll start ACTING like Marines!”

    Who’s to say proper vesture doesn’t bear a similar influence on priests? On men in general? On women in modest dress, for that matter? Better believe there’s a connection….

    Thanks, Father, for keeping the link to the Marines’ web page on your blog.

    God Bless and Semper Fidelis

  53. Chris says:

    Brian: “I think I might use my cassock as dress from time to time once I am ordained, though I do admit a concern for not scandalizing my future brother priests.”

    If the sight of traditional Catholic wear is scandelous to them, don’t you think that says something about your brother seminarians?

    Set an example. Wear a cassock.

  54. Jeremy UK says:

    No, it certainly is not illegal for priests to wear a cassock on the street in the UK! Perhaps the writer was confusing England with Mexico, where I gather it is still illegal. However you might find some high church Anglican parading in places like Walsingham in a cassock rather than the Catholic clergy, who would usually wear (one hopes) a black suit and a clerical collar. A family member who is a priest wears neither and will not wear a chasuble either when celebrating Mass, although the GIRM (which he has never read) prescribes it as well as the Bishops.

    In Paris, a cassock is very rarely seen on the streets these days (except by SSPX at S Nicholas or regular clergy, such as Benedictines). A French PP of my acquaintance there always wears his and laments its demise amongst his brethren. You really would be hard pressed to spot a priest in most French cities these days. At least here clergy are recognisable still.

  55. Gloria says:

    I have never seen our FSSP priests out of their cassocks. On our pilgrimages to Italy, they wore their cassocks on the plane. They play dodge ball in their cassocks. They wear them on the annual camping trip with the altar boys, running, etc. At a parish BBQ they even wore them (good sports that they are) in the dunk tank! They only took off their shoes that time.

  56. I agree with the Father above that a cassock is better than just wearing clericals, because clericals are frequently worn by non-Catholics.

    Here at Villanova we have a very mixed bag. We have some Augustinians always in habit, some almost never in habit, opting for regular casual street clothes (i.e. jeans and sneakers), some wearing clericals most of the time. I very much planning on being a habit almost all the time kind of guy. To me it serves two purposes for a religious: one, it offers the visible sign that is so intrinsic to the Catholic sacramental worldview, and two, it ensures that I don’t need to worry so much about buying clothes and what to wear, which deepens the simplicity built in to the vow of poverty.

  57. CBM says:

    I’m a priest and pastor in the Archdiocese of Miami. In my last parish I wore the cassock every weekend and all “special occasions”. In my present parish (much larger and “busier”) I wear the cassock every day and all day. My associate wears it with the same frequency as I did in my last pastorate. He says it too hot ( Miami) to wear every day. I wore it less last time only due to the fact that the parish situation allowed/demanded most of my day was spent working and repairing on the church and grounds. Both of us will make a run to the grocery store or Home Depot if the situation arises in cassock. Most people pretend that they don’t see us but some will smile with appreciation. Our parishioners love it when they see us at Publix or some other “regular” place and of course the funeral homes.
    Don’t worry what the other priests OR your pastor has to say about your cassock. If you are comfortable and can wear it comfortably, go for it. My archbishop and the auxiliaries see me in it every time they stop by and none have ever made anything but a positive comments. The people of the parish are the ones who really appreciate it. The kids at school think that it is very cool. Finally, since I wear sunglasses all the time, the kids used to say, “Fr. Marino, you look like the matrix, but now they know, that the matrix looks like Fr. Marino”.

  58. Fr. Guy says:

    To Jeremy UK:

    Actually, Mexico has repealed its law prohibiting clerical dress in public but the UK has NOT. It is not enforced any longer. However, as recently as 1993 I travelled from London to Canterbury by train in my cassock and when I returned home my host (a priest) told me he was surprised I was not stopped and questioned by a policeman. Just because it is not enforced any longer doesn’t change the fact that there IS STILL a law on the books in the UK prohibiting the wearing of the Roman Cassock by Roman Catholic priests in public outside Church property.

  59. Ken STL says:

    I recall visiting a parish in Kentucky while on vacation, and dreading the Mass because the Web site for the parish looked quite awful.

    As we approached the front door, a young priest in cassock swung it open for us. The Fathers of Mercy had just taken over the parish. A wonderful experience!

  60. Jimbo says:

    Fr. Z,

    There could be a lesson from the military and other professions. In the Army, we have a prescribed uniform for the places we might frequent. In the normal course of duty, that would be the ACU, which is a work uniform. If one works in a professional setting, the dress is the Class B or Class A uniform. For a nice dinner, it is the Dress Blues.

    Doctors, nurses and scientists wear lab coats. Even the lowly UPS guy (whose first name you must know!) has standards of ugly brown socks, pants and shirt, and sturdy shoes. Why should priests (or nuns) be any different?

    I’m all for clerics spiffing up their garb. I grew up around American priests in black suit and Roman collar, and nuns in flowing skirts, modest long sleeved blouses and a plain habit. It all seemed so sane.

    I understand the whole culture has gone topsy with inappropriate and informal attire. We suffer from a scourge of informality, but thats for another time and place…

    In short…dress ’em up again.

  61. Chris says:

    CBM: Finally, since I wear sunglasses all the time, the kids used to say, “Fr. Marino, you look like the matrix, but now they know, that the matrix looks like Fr. Marino”.


  62. Love the Saturno.

    I agree that the writer was mistaken to associate this mainly with Opus Dei and LC. I see younger diocesan priests (and some not so young) wearing them.

    At Assumption Grotto it is THE way we are accustomed to seeing our priests whenever they are around the parish. True, as you say, when they are “offsite” unless it is some kind of symposium or other event, they are in their ordinary priestly black suits.

    I see few wearing the sash. Perhaps, Fr. Z – you can do a post on this. What is the significance of the sash (if that’s what you call it). I think it looks good for more festive occasions. I’ve seen some in religious orders sporting it more often than not, like Miles Christi.

  63. Dave Pawlak says:

    Fr. Marino: May priests in your diocese wear the tropical cassock?

  64. Baron Korf says:

    My parish priest wears a cassock, its wonderful. The fact that it is so unusual is the part that is reassuring. While the rest of the world is subject to the whims and wiles of popular opinion and fashion, the roman collar, and in particular the cassock, is a way of speaking to the reassuring timelessness of the Church and her devoted servants. Of course that goes along with anything that is held in traditional continuity.

  65. Henry Edwards says:

    It seems to me that the cassock is pretty rapidly becoming the norm rather than the exception for the younger and more orthodox priests. In the two parishes I attend regularly, the associate in one almost always wears one within the parish, and the youngish pastor of the other parish is never seen without cassock either inside or outside the parish. Another generalization I see is that every younger priest who celebrates the TLM has a cassock, as do the young seminarians in orthodox seminaries (where they’re probably learning the TLM). “What you see is what you’ve got”?

  66. tertullian says:

    Fr. Philip,OP…where is Bernardo Gui when you need him? Pay no attention to the naysayers,press on regardless.

    CBM…Fr. Marino, Arabs wear thobes up to 60 degrees C….

  67. Julie says:

    It is my understanding that many diocese’s have a particular law that affects where and when the cassock may be worn. I know that in some places, they are allowed to wear the cassock only on Church property, which may be a parish, shrine, etc. However, if they leave Church grounds, say, to go to the grocery store or visit the homes of parishioners, they have to change into clerics.

    It is my understanding also that this is a particular law in my current diocese, although I haven’t seen it in writing. I do know for certain in another diocese this is the case and it was a priest who PREFERS to wear the cassock who told me about the law there.

    I, too, really like the look of the cassock; it definitely seems to COMMAND respect for the office of the Priest, significantly more so than clerics.

  68. CB says:

    Several years ago my entire town was evacuated due to the threat of a flood. The Sunday following when we were allowed to return our priest had a mini-rant during the sermon. His car had broken down and he was on the side of the road for a couple hours with no one offering to help, despite the bumper to bumper 10 mph that everyone was going. After Mass I heard a woman ask him if he was wearing his collar at the time. He said he was not and then quickly realized her point that he would have had help right away if he had been. (Ours was a very Catholic town.)

  69. Joanne says:

    I know several priests who wear a cassock regularly, both at the EF/OF parish I’ve attended (naturally), but also at the OF/Anglical Use parish that is geographically more like a home parish for me. (One of the cassock-wearing priests I know is a married, Anglican priest-convert.) I like the cassock alot, and the biretta that one priest I know wears. I like habits on nuns also. But – I try not to criticize any priest or nun for the clothing that he or she chooses to wear.

  70. Paul Madrid says:

    “It is my understanding that many diocese’s have a particular law that affects where and when the cassock may be worn.”

    I wonder if the USCCB supplementary norms preempt that particular law.

  71. Paul Madrid says:

    I’ll reprint the norm in question for ease of discussion:

    “The use of the cassock is at the discretion of the cleric.”

  72. little gal says:

    I have a question about wearing cassocks. What do priests wear under them…pants or perhaps the male equivalent of a slip? The reason I ask this is that as a woman who wears dresses almost all of the time,I know that a slip is required so that the garment will hang properly and not ride up. Also thinner fabrics can be transparent and a slip is needed for modesty. I would also like to know if most priests launder and iron the cassock themselves or if they send it out.

  73. Julie says:

    Paul – I’m studying Canon Law right now, but often the Bishop of a diocese can actually supersede such norms to create a particular law for his diocese. However, he would not be able to FORBID a priest from wearing the cassock in his own parish.

    Hmm…would be an interesting topic for our class to discuss. I’m studying for a test, but the clerical canons won’t be on this one so it’s not my priority to look it up right now, in all honesty. But I AM curious.

    (Hmm..even further…totally bloggable topic when I have time for the research!) Thanks. :-)

  74. TCP says:

    I recently walk the streets of an Irish city with a priest who wore black suit and white collar – what used to be the basis clerical garb. It was amazing how many people came up to him asking for a blessing or wanting a few words. It struck me that it is something not seen on Irish streets anymore. Our priests are either afraid of being recognised as priests or are ashamed. One wonders why this is.

  75. Darden says:

    Regarding those priests who claim that cassocks are too hot, are they wearing pants underneath, or shorts? I spent some months w/a community that wore their habits, and they wore pants in the winter, whereas in the summer they wore knee-high socks and shorts underneath–I found it more comfortable than wearing pants in the summer thats for sure.

  76. Fr G says:

    Oh Dear, I wear a soutane and it has wings!But being an Irish priest it is our tradition. the story goes that when Cardinal Cullen came to Ireland he was suprised to see the Irish clergy wore the Frock coat practically all the time. He is supposed to have said to the Pope How should my clergy dress and the Pope answered Just like us.Irish priests wear the same soutane as the Pope but all Black.
    I follow the Irish Tradition when wearing the soutane ie I wear it administering the sacraments, When visiting the schools and generally in the Parish. I wear a clerical suit at other times. (Have not managed to find a tailor in Ireland who can make a Frock coat).The Frock coat started to disapear in the late sixties to be replaced by a black suit.
    There is also another variation to the soutane here in ireland and that is the sleevless soutane. It may have a normall collar or a V neck and is worn over the clerical suit . It is very handy when travelling. I do not have one as we no longer have clerical tailors in Ireland. I have never seen them in the shops in Rome
    By the way I still wear the soutane I was ordained in and that was twelve years ago. Only the buttons need replacing. the Garment is a strong as ever. I have bought other Soutanes but have been disapointed, the longest surving one lasted only 5 years. I do prefer the shape of the old Irish ones as I find the Roman ones too bell shaped. I have never found either the Soutane or clerical dress a barrier.

  77. Steve says:

    Salwar Kameez, Disha Dasha, Kufi, Hijab, Jibab; these are
    just a few of the names for clothing worn by Muslims abroad
    and in the United States. Cassocks, Surplices, Birettas, Cleric
    Capes, Frock Coats; these are just a few names for clothing
    that were once the norm for male clerics and seminarians
    abroad and in the United States. What’s the difference?
    Muslims never allowed secularism to dictate how they are
    to dress while, most especially in the USA, it has. Not too
    long ago the Muslim faith became the fastest grown faith in
    the world. One of the reasons I believe it has is because they
    have held onto their traditional garb. It is my hope that in the
    upcoming “Year of the Priest” the Holy Father makes it mandatory
    that all priests once again dress in their proper attire. i.e., The
    cassock, biretta, etc. Like it or not, on 9/11/2001 the USA has
    been involved in a “Jihad” against the West for becoming too
    “secularized”. Now is the time for all priests and men and
    women Religious to get back into recognizable religious garb.
    “Clothes makes the man (and the woman)”. What if Police
    Departments decided to do away with uniforms, or the Armed
    Forces or even Flight Attendants? How would anyone know who
    to go to for help or aid? Be proud of your Habits (if you wear one)
    and, for God’s sake, for those who don’t, start wearing a recognizable
    religious garb again. How many vocations have been lost because
    there has been little if no recognition of an outward symbol of
    one’s vocation? Is it my imagination or have the newly established
    orders of women who wear a habit seem to have more women enter-
    ing their convents than those who discarded a habit? Any male diocesan
    cleric (including permanent deacons) should wear clerical attire when
    they are performing their ministry. Cassocks should and need to be man-
    datory in rectories when a cleric is on call. Vocations’ Crisis? I guess
    so. We created it ourselves via secularism. You want more men in
    Seminaries? Get back into a cassock and see what happens.

  78. ssoldie says:

    “Rubbish one usually finds in the U.S.A.” Way to go F. Excellent wording and not only for priest but for men, woman teen, children. It’s the moronic remarks like Shane Oneill that tells me alot of what we have lost in the American society.( I am of old Irish stock and will not shame my ancestors,with a ‘ in his name)

  79. Girgadis says:

    I agree with the analogy that not wearing a cassock or, at the least, a black shirt and collar, is like a married person leaving their wedding band home when they go out in public. H

  80. M. G. Hysell says:

    A welcome insistence on clerical dress.

    I would be cautious about the generalization that “progressives” hate the cassock. While I will not identify where, I know for a fact that several progressive dioceses still require that a seminarian own a cassock, and to wear it especially at the cathedral.

  81. TJM says:

    CBM, please keep wearing your cassock. Most Catholics really appreciate priests like yourself who are proud of their ministry. I DETEST priests who try to look like lay people. They think they are being “relevant” or “with it” but I think they are misguided and kind of pathetic. Tom

  82. Fr. Bryan J. B. Pedersen says:

    That same post on the History of the Cassock reveals the particular law on clerical attire in the U.S.

    “We wish therefore and enjoin that all keep the law of the Church, and that when at home or when engaged in the sanctuary they should always wear the cassock [vestis talaris] which is proper to the clergy. When they go abroad for duty or relaxation, or when upon a journey, they may use a shorter dress, but still one that is black in colour, and which reaches to the knees, so as to distinguish it from lay costume. We enjoin upon our priests as a matter of strict precept, that both at home and abroad, and whether they are residing in their own diocese or outside of it, they should wear the Roman collar.”

    At the table of Monsignor Schuler he used to note that the Cassock was only to be worn on Church Grounds, and the clerical suit when off of church grounds. He was incorrect on this point. The law he referenced from Baltimore, but never quoted actually reveals that the Cassock is worn always in the sanctuary, but the same law notes that the Cassock can always be worn anywhere even off church grounds. The allowance of a shorter clerical frock coat is a privilege afforded the priest when traveling at home or abroad, but it is not a command. The new U.S. legislation certainly accords with this earlier provision of the third plenary council of Baltimore in that the discretion to wear the cassock is given to the individual cleric. No mention is made of the place where it is worn, but if we see this law in continuity with previous legislation than the cassock can even be worn outside of the Sanctuary or off Church grounds. This right belongs to the cleric.

  83. Tina says:

    Wow Fr. Philip
    I’m kind of saddened by your story at SLU Hospital. Especially since in 2002 they were still a Jesuit run institution. (They are a for-profit hospital now.)

    Guess I’ll take my healthcare dollars else where

  84. Meredith says:

    I heard from a seminarian at the English College that the UK’s anti-cassock law was repealed before John Paul II visited the country (can’t remember which year). He did say that the law forbidding Catholics to ring church bells was still on the books (obviously no one cares!).

  85. Bob says:

    The dress does not make the man. However, the dress is an indication what the man thinks about the “priest in him.’

  86. TMG says:

    Thank you Father Z for posting this subject. I am a big supporter of priests wearing cassocks. I came across this inspirational article from TheCatholicNews, April 2006, by Nelson Quah;

    “Despite the “hiccup” between the Vatican and the traditional priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) – which hopefully will be resolved soon – I have this comment to make about the public dress code and behavior of these priests.

    On different occasions, I came across these priests along Orchard Road, on MRT trains and buses and it was most edifying to see them in their neat cassock, proudly wanting to identify themselves as Catholic priests to all and sundry. Their deep love and commitment for their priestly vocation is reflected clearly in the proper way they conduct themselves in public, which speaks volumes for the Church, their Society and their zeal to make Jesus Christ known to others.

    Some old local priests I knew when I was a teenager behaved in very much the same manner as the SSPX priests. They were so proud of their cassock that it never failed to be a part of their dress code wherever they went. The power of the cassock as a powerful tool of evangelism – at least in evoking curiosity among non-Catholics about the faith – should not be underestimated.

    Today many of our local priests are more comfortable to appear in public in civilian garb as they prefer anonymity for reasons best known to themselves.

    My intention in writing this letter is not to criticise our local priests but to encourage them to be proud of their priestly vocation and to manifest it publicly by proudly donning the cassock.

    Catholics love their faith and priests and it saddens them to see their priests hiding behind the cloak of anonymity in public. Wearing the cassock clearly marks them out as Catholic priests.

    If the pope can make it a point to put on his papal garb in public, why can’t our local priests do the same with their cassock?”

  87. Edward C. says:

    Funny story: My parish priest wears his cassock with some frequency both in Church and out and about. Around halloween he went to the supermarket in his clerics (cassock) and a kid stopped him in amazement and exclaimed “That is the BEST priest costume I’ve ever seen!”

  88. Lasorda says:

    Why does Opus Dei get an “ugh?” I live in Los Angeles and I know exactly four priests who regularly wear a Cassock. Three of them are priests of Opus Dei. I am a bit confused by your comment, Father. Are you hostile to Opus Dei?

  89. CB says:

    Little Gal, although I have only known priests from religious orders who wear habits (not cassocks per se), all of the ones that I have known have worn pants underneath. For most of them you could see their pant cuffs underneath the habit. Although one did wear shorts sometimes. My brother-in-law has a habit which is long enough not to show the pant cuffs, but when he was visiting once, he decided to hand upside down on the swingset and, uh, that was when I found out he wore pants too.

  90. Sharon says:

    I too wonder why Opus Dei priests and the Legionaries of Christ priests got a ugh.

  91. Andrew says:

    Re.: wearing cassocks in the UK.

    If such a law were still on the statute book, it would be deemed obsolete and therefore unenforceable; furthermore, the Human Rights Act 1998 provides that ‘So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights’ (s 3(1)); one of the Convention rights is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion which includes the person’s right ‘to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance’ (Article 9.1). Therefore, any cleric can wear his cassock without fear of arrest.

    Even without the enactment of the aforementioned legislation, just because a law is still on the statute book, it does not mean that it is still in force; in fact, every so often, the Law Commission cleans up the statute book by eliminating anomalies, repealing obsolete and unnecessary enactments and reducing the number of separate statutes.

    As an aside, it has become customary to invite the Archbishop of Westminster to take part in royal and state ceremonial occasions, e.g., national services of thanksgiving, and he does so wearing his cassock – something which would hardly be acceptable in the presence of the Queen and her Government were it to be illegal…

  92. Jeremy UK says:

    To Fr Guy
    I am pleased to hear that Mexico is now more enlightened, but, with respect, I can find nothing at all about a law prohibiting Catholic priests from wearing a cassock in public in England and Wales or the UK. I can find no record of any law in the Roman Catholic Relief Acts (1778, 1829 and 1926 or of any prosecutions either. What would a poor priest be charged with and under what?

    There must be many unrepealled laws on the Statutes here. But if they are no longer workable, they are dead. Precedent is all-important here in law. Perhaps this is a reference to some long-forgotten Elizabethan restriction. Any prosectution brought to court today against a priest for wearing a cassock would be a laughingstock and certainly thrown out. But try, say, to marry into the Royal family as a Catholic and then watch the sparks fly!

  93. Sussex Cathollic says:

    My understanding of the cassock controversies is as follows and chimes with much of what has been said above:

    1. In the US and England decisions were taken in the late 19th Century to limit the wearing of the cassock to church property (this was not specified but meant in effect in the church and in the priest’s house where it was mandatory). This was done by the relevant Episcopal bodies although the famous Baltimore rules in the USA which were indeed repealed in the 1990s as stated above. The English rules which followed the same principles were indeed based on a statute which forbade clergy not of the Established Church from wearing the cassock in public. In both countries this gave rise to the so-called “clergyman” or stock and collar and suit which forms the basis of modern clerical dress.

    2. This explains the residual modern reticence even of traditional priests in England to wear the cassock when in public (they are likely to be mistaken for Anglicans). Even priests such as Oratorians who wear a distinctive cassock developed their own “clergyman” version. It was the custom of the Brompton Oratory priests when they took Holy Communion to the sick to wear their habit plus surplice and stole but that always (even in summer) to wear an ankle length “Greca” or overcoat over the top. The sign to any Catholics they passed in the street that they were carrying the Blessed Sacrament was that they would keep their right hand inside the coat across their chest “Napoleon” style. Then one would know not to speak to them but to genuflect as they passed. Given that many Anglican clergy prefer either grey shirts and very casual civilian mix and match dress or else elaborate Anglo-Catholic cassocks in public, Catholic clery in England are more likely to be recognised as such by sticking strictly to black suit and stock/black clerical shirt. By doing anything else they would not be following the customs of their pre-conciliar predecessors.

    3. Given that the wearing of the cassock or habit is mandatory for the celebration of the Usus Antiqiuor many English priests possessed sleeveless of “slip” cassocks which were ideal for wearing round the house and for travelling.

    4. The issue of the cape on the priest’s cassock is indeed a controversial one. The cape is a mark of rank and could only be worn by the Rectors of Major Seminaries or such like. That said specific permissions were given in both Ireland and England for wider use. Ireland’s related I believe to Cardinal Cullen and England’s was a specific privilege granted by Bl Pius IX to English parish priests (the equivalent of Pastors in the US). However very few ever took up the privilege preferring to keep the simple cassock they had worn since seminary. Even now if a priest in England is spotted wearing a caped cassock he should be asked whether he comes under the Bl.Pius IX privilege.

    5. As to what is worn underneath. At the English College in Rome before the Council baggy knee length canvas pantaloons were issued but rarely worn. Most preferred tennis shorts. If the cassock is made for the wearer then the trousers (psnts) should not be visible anyway particularly if tucked into the socks.

    6. As I undestand the situation to be now at the English College in Rome, even though the Vicar of Rome has repeatedly reminded institutions that every seminarian from candidacy onwards is expected to wear the cassock, the English College ban the cassock completely from their premises (even for visiting priests). Even those seminarians who are ordained deacon are forbidden from wearing the cassock to functions. Those seminarians who are invited to serve at papal masses must walk to St.Peter’s with their cassocks and Roman collars in bags. Pope John Paull II visited the English College in the 1980’s and expressed his personal disapproval at the lack of cassocks (and the lack of kneeling during Mass) but his words fell on stony ground.

  94. Cortney says:

    Last summer I took a course sponsored by our diocese. The priest-teacher (a monsignor, no less) showed up in burmudas and a wrinkled T-shirt. My respect-ometer hit zero. ‘Nuff said. I vote for the cassock, whenever it’s possible and practical for a priest to wear one. The black trousers and jacket and clerical collar are okay, but there’s something special about a cassock. Somehow, post Vatican II, as the image of Christ slowly morphed into a loveable, huggable, guy-next-door persona, priests also came under pressure to become loveable, huggable, guys-next-door. Most of us want our priests to be as Holy as they can be. We want our priests to be different from us, better than we are–role models. We want them to be representatives of Christ: in the world but detached from it; men who are worthy of our respect; men who are always ready to guide us by their words and actions, by their service. Of course simply putting on a cassock doesn’t make a lax priest a holy one. But maybe there is something to the idea that clothes make the man. Perhaps if a priest wears a cassock he will inspire greater deference and respect from his flock (and from those who see him in public), and that respect will encourage him to rise to his full potential.

  95. I have the impression that clerical garb itself imparts a grace to those who see it. This is why the devil hates cassocks, collars or anything demonstrating the religious standing of anyone. Just as blessed bells and the voice of the ordained impart blessings on the hearers, smells of blessed candles and incense bless the nose, so too do holy sights impart blessings and graces on those who see.
    There’s an evil intent for the reason we have lost so many of these things.

  96. Priests who are embarrassed of their office usually dress in ordinary clothes.

  97. McStrozzi says:

    Priests and nuns were too distant from people in the past. I guess that making them look more like everybody else was the idea to bring them closer.
    All the comments above, though, make it quite clear that their identification at first sight is desirable, perhaps not the cassok in summertime, but definitely priests and nuns should dress and behave like they are supposed to.

    I remember an old saying – “never argue with peope in skirts: women, judges, and priests”!

  98. Ann says:

    I would love to see all clerics dressed so that we can clearly see that they are indeed clerics. And I think the cassock is seriously wonderful when used.

    \”On a side note, I don’t know what juridical status the LC has, but the article got one thing wrong: Opus Dei is NOT an order and its priests are not religious. They are secular priests.\”

    Nice to see a clarification. Opus Dei is a personal prelature and not a religious order. I admire that the preists connected to OP wear cassocks but I am even happier to read that many others do so as well.

    Little Gal: I dress in skirts most of the time and rather than wear a slip, I find that selecting cotton fabrics and linen blends in fabric that is not see through solves the modesty issue, and I wear my skirts over loose fitting cotton capris (cotton trousers). I do not have a problem with anything riding up. I think riding up is also a function of the cut of the skirts–I have mine made because what the stores offer usually is not well cut or comes in fabrics which are unacceptable. I thought you might like to know that a slip can be replaced with capris and if both skirt and capris are cotton there won\’t be a problem at all.

    Synthetics are notorious for clinging too.

    Back to priestly garb–I find it disconcerting to meet up with our parish priest out of his black shirt and collar. I find the clothing that says \”priest\” very reasuring. I find that when I see men wearing at a minimum the shirt and collar, it inspires me to think more about my actions all day. A priest in a cassock inspires me to think harder about even my own thoughts and to ask if I am doing and thinking in ways that please Christ.

    I like the traditional uniforms. I also like to see nuns in at least minimally habit like clothing. When they are clearly nuns by their clothing they are also inspiring.

  99. Kristen says:

    The priest from my old parish is very well known, and often invited to give parish missions.
    I only saw him a cassock for Good Friday.
    And I saw him in public once, in jeans and a polo.
    He, more than once, went up against the Bishop for being too hardcore about Catholicism, and from preaching from the pulpit about contraception, homosexuality, etc.

    So, while cassocks do “make the man”, a priest’s dress doesn’t always tell us the whole story about him.

  100. MW says:

    The only one sometimes waering a cassock in our town is – a permanent deacon. Usually elderly priests are wearing jeans to lumberjack shirts, younger priests prefer blatant colors (to demonstrate vitality and trendiness?). You can see the combination of a yellow sports coat to a blue shirt, with a green tie. Sorry, but nothing can compare with the timeless tastefulness of a cassock.

  101. a catechist says:

    I don’t mean this in a nasty way, but I wonder if the unpopularity of cassocks is related to the obesity epidemic in the US? I mean, it does look better on a man whose waist is smaller than his shoulders and I wonder if that might effect the choice of some priests. No disrespect to priests of any shape intended!

  102. Our parish priest and deacon both wear cassocks (you can usually distinguish an Eastern from a Western priest if both are in cassocks by the presence or absence of a beard, traditional in the East). There are exceptions, however. The local Byzantine priest is clean-shaven, and one of the local Catholic priests here is bearded (or was, when I ran into him last at the supermarket).

    Do Western priests wear pectoral crosses? I haven’t seen one, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a neglected tradition, so I’m just asking.

  103. “I don’t mean this in a nasty way, but I wonder if the unpopularity of cassocks is related to the obesity epidemic in the US? I mean, it does look better on a man whose waist is smaller than his shoulders and I wonder if that might effect the choice of some priests. No disrespect to priests of any shape intended!”

    Interesting, but I don’t think so. In actual fact I think cassocks are far kinder to the obese than clerical suits.

  104. little gal says:

    From the Opus Dei website:

    ‘The Clergy of the Opus Dei Prelature are priests who are under the jurisdiction of the Prelate of Opus Dei. They are a minority in Opus Dei— only about 2% of Opus Dei members are part of the clergy.[72] Typically, they are numeraries or associates who ultimately joined the priesthood.

    The Priestly Society of the Holy Cross consists of priests associated with Opus Dei. Part of the society is made up of the clergy of the Opus Dei prelature — members of the priesthood who fall under the jurisdiction of the Opus Dei prelature are automatically members of the Priestly Society. Other members in the society are diocesan priests — clergymen who remain under the jurisdiction of a geographically defined diocese. These priests are considered members of Opus Dei who are given its spiritual training. They do not however report to the Opus Dei Prelate but to their own diocesan bishop.’

  105. Charivari Rob says:

    rightwingprof – “Do Western priests wear pectoral crosses? I haven’t seen one, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a neglected tradition, so I’m just asking.”

    The pastor of a previous parish of mine wears a pectoral cross, but I believe that’s because he was made an archimandrite.

  106. w.a. says:

    I had a little different experience. One day, the priest from the local Catholic church came in. I don’t belong to his parish but I recognized him. He was in civilian clothes. I thought to myself, this is probably one of the few times he could go anywhere without being recognized. So, I treated him as one of my customers and did not acknowlege that I had recognized him.

    As it happened, not long thereafter I was at a diocesan function and saw that the priest was also in attendence; this time in his full clericals. I went up to him afterwards and introduced myself and said I had recognized him when he had come into my shop but had not acknowledged him because I thought he might wish some privacy in a town where he would ordinarily be immediately recognized.

    As I turned to leave, he reached out and gave me a big hug… obviously to thank me.

  107. seminarian says:

    as an overweight seminarian I can attest to the cassock being kinder than a suit. We are always being reminded that we are public people who represent the Church wherever and whenever we leave the seminary. I realized that I lost my “anonymity” when I crossed the door of the seminary, that said is there really anytime or anything when I should want to hide or mask my identity? How much more so for a priest? I plan once ordained, God willing, to wear a cassock, it is the most visible sign of who I am. Ven. Archbishop Fulton J Sheen once said that we ( speaking to a group of priets) are Christ’s ambassadors to society. I ask, should that ever be hidden, downplayed or confused?

  108. J Ramsey says:

    When I first moved to the Bible belt (10 years ago) I was TOTALLY unprepared not only for the small amount of Catholics but the fact that 90% of the people I met asked me what church I went to in the first 5 minutes of conversation. After the first 25 people “gasped” and immediately invited me to their church (I was also given several KJVs of the Bible, my favorite in fake pink leather with my name engraved in gold colored lettering!) I really started to think of priests and nuns in their “outfits”. I had never thought about it before but I would have loved to have seen “a port in a storm” in those first 2-3 years. However I can’t begin to imagine the kind of response a cassock or habit might garner around here!

  109. Maureen says:

    Latin Rite bishops wear pectoral crosses. Abbots, too, and some abbesses, I think.

  110. Eric says:

    I am in the application process for a diocesan seminary in the U.S. (I won’t say which one). The seminarians rarely wear cassocks, though I’ve heard this is an exception rather than the norm in other American seminaries. The guys that I met in formation did not seem lax in their discipline. I think they prefer not to be presumptuous in wearing clerical garb until they’re actually ordained.

    I have never seen a real, live priest walking about in a cassock. For some reason I associate that with Jesuit scholastics and not parish priests. Though that thinking probably comes from working at a Jesuit university and reading the history of the Society of Jesus. Roman collars are rarities on campus, save for a couple elderly Jesuits or when elderly donors are being courted at major fundraisers.

    Lastly, I’ve developed a penchant for secular sartorial dress of late, which I imagine will need to be abandoned. However, I’m curious, what’s the rule for priests and three-piece black suits? Or pockets squares?

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