The Cassock

cassockUse of the cassock.

In England… and in Wales?… it was illegal to wear the cassock in public.  Perhaps it still is.  I believe there is a tale told that Queen Elizabeth paid the fine for John Paul II.  Se non è vero….

In these USA, the Council of Baltimore, held in a time of real persecution of Catholics, it was determined that in public priests would wear the more secular frock coat, rather than the cassock.  That policy, which shaped the old priests who shaped me, lingers in my practice.  I don’t often go out in public in the cassock, but my resistance is … futile.

However, the erosion of our Catholic identity, and the erosion of priestly identity – directly related to each other – have led inexorably to a lack of comprehension of what a priest is, how to recognize one, etc.  And priests haven’t made that easy.

Now I read a story about a group of seminarians in clerical dress were denied entry to a pub in Cardiff, because the innkeeper thought they were in “fancy” dress or they were there for a “stag do”.

From The Telegraph:

Father Michael Doyle said the seven went to the pub in Quay Street to celebrate the ordination of Father Peter McLaren at Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral of St David near Queen Street. He said it was a double celebration because Fr McLaren was the second to be ordained to the priesthood in a week.

He added that the City Arms was a favourite of his colleagues including the Archbishop of Cardiff, George Stack.

Fr Doyle said: “They arrived at the City Arms and they were dressed wearing the clerical collar. “The doorman basically said something along the lines of, ‘sorry gents, we have a policy of no fancy dress and no stag dos’.”

The doorman was good-natured but firm, and the students had started to leave when they were approached by the bar manager. “He basically said, ‘you’re real, aren’t you?’,” said Fr Doyle.

“He invited them back in and when they walked back in the entire pub burst into a round of applause, and they had a free round off the City Arms.


The Directory for Priests identity – in the first place – the cassock as the proper dress of the priest and, oh yes… after that other sorts of garb.

I don’t trust priests who speak badly of the cassock.

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  1. Philmont237 says:

    Here in the Diocese of Monterey, CA I have seen several priests. However I have only seen one wear a collar: the traditional priest from Brittany, France who was wearing a cassock. I was immediately drawn to him and felt like I had seen an old friend even though I never met him. He was wonderful to talk to. He also had on pique cuffs, and looked really sharp!
    Sadly the EF Mass is too far for my family and I to travel to Sunday mornings. Most of the time when I have been to Confession at the parish nearest my house the priest was wearing khakis, a sport polo, and his purple stole. The priest at my parish (chapel rather, he is a contracted by the Archdiocese for the Military Services to pray Mass) wears a white oxford and black pants. Even though I know his face, I barely recognize him as a priest.

  2. aladextra says:

    I travel very frequently for work and so very often get upgraded to business/first class when I fly, more often than not actually. I decided about a year ago that I would offer the upgrade to any priest boarding in a cassock (you see them in the airport sometimes), but the opportunity hasn’t arisen yet. I’ve thought of trying to get some other frequent flyers to do the same thing. Maybe we could start a society of some sort. You could never be sure someone in a clerical suit wasn’t a Methodist minister, for example, and once you make the offer you couldn’t retract it. Kind of like sending a nice pie over to the rectory to thank your priests.

  3. Philmont237 says:

    Also, interesting conundrum, should permanent deacons have their own “uniform?” I know some diocese have them wear gray shirts or a so-called deacon cross around their necks when then wear a collar. Should there be a gray cassock for them to distinguish them from priests?

  4. Uxixu says:

    Given how many heretic sects wear the clerical suit and plastic tab collar one would hope the Cassock would be required for all clerics (to include deacons) in any area not declared by the competent dicastery to be under active persecution, at the very least in the church grounds and home life (for those areas where it’s illegal to wear clerical garb in public – Mexico comes to mind) along the lines of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore:

    “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.”

  5. Uxixu says:

    Philmont237, a deacon is a cleric and the church has never distinguished in the non-liturgical garb of different grades of clerics other than prelates. Having deacons wear something distinctive would distract from the idea of the clerical state, which has never previously before recent years been conflated to the priesthood alone.

    If anything, the clerical state should probably be moved to the (instituted acolyte) and the formation of acolytes restored to the parish level, to be instituted by the Ordinary on his canonical visit and should precede or follow confirmations. This would put an end to the abuse of EMCH since acolytes are explicitly preferred to lay substitutes in the distribution of Holy Communion and not replicate the scenario before Ministeria Quadem where minor orders were effectively confined to the seminary instead of restored to the parish as called for by Trent Session XXIII, Ch XVII where it was admitted.

    It would also reduce the burden on seminaries to take a may from laic to cleric and also leave the diaconate less of a redheaded step-child reinforcing a more traditional understanding of the clerical state. One could also see an environment where hypothetically a diocesan seminary would either require seminarians to already be acolytes or ‘institute’ them after a year of discernment and then either designate the acolyte a subdeacon at year 3 and ordain the diaconate at year 5 with the understanding they would be ‘permanent’ if they left seminary at any point (for a reason that wouldn’t require juridical laicization)…

  6. Reginald Pole says:

    Though it is no longer illegal to wear the cassock in Mexico is is still rarely seen in public.

  7. YellowRoses says:

    For me, the cassock is a common, welcome sign.
    It’s a green light: “conservative priest ahead!”
    {not to say the all conservative priests wear cassocks, but usually those in cassocks are traditional, conservative priests}

  8. FrMJPB says:

    “I don’t trust priests who speak badly of the cassock.”


  9. acardnal says:

    I lived in the diocese of Arlington (VA) for about 25 years. Delighted to say that I observed many priests who wore the cassock especially the younger ones.

    When I moved to the midwest, the pastor of my new parish didn’t wear a cassock – or even a Roman collar! He preferred Hawaiian shirts! He’s retired now, thanks be to God.

  10. Iggy75 says:

    We have an older Filipino Redemptorist at my parish in California who wears a white cassock. Is that like “tropical whites” in the Navy?

    [Yes. Wearing a black cassock in the sun is like wearing solar panels. There are also white cassocks.
    I have one trimmed with black, with black buttons, etc.]

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    How can a priest expect to keep the religion going, the one he surely sacrificed to enter, if he rejects the outward signs of that religion. This kind of mindset, that we see infiltrates deep and wide in our church today, is totally confounding. Why did they go to all this trouble, only to turn the church into a Protestant one.

  12. John the Mad says:

    Sounds like a good question for a Father Zed (I’m a Canuck) poll.

  13. Austin says:

    I believe deacons in Chicago were forbidden to wear clerical collars by Cardinal George, lest the laity be confused that they were priests. I imagine that would apply a fortiori to the cassock.

    The clergy at Cantius wear cassocks of course, and it is a welcome sight. As they are an order, the rules applying to diocesan clergy may not apply.

  14. The Egyptian says:

    like this fine young man ordained to the transitional deaconate from our parish, Matt Keller, open the link

    it was a treat to see cassocks and that beautiful huge CPPS mission cross again. That is how I remember Fr Stock from my youth at my little country parish, Matt is the one on the right with the carnation, the other ones are the director of vocations and his assistant

  15. Speaking badly of the cassock would be, to me, like a Marine diss’ing his uniform.

    You just wouldn’t trust him to have your back in a fight, would you?

    Same goes for a priest deriding the natural dress of his state. You are in a minute by minute fight for your immortal soul…would you trust your back to someone who disdained the ‘uniform’ of the office he assumed to lead you to Heaven? What else does he ‘disdain’?

    Just my $.02.

  16. Norah says:

    In Australia it is referred to as soutane. I can’t remember the last time I saw a priest wearing one. Our Assistant Priest (curate) wore his clerical collar on church grounds but when out shopping he used to slip the white tab into his shirt collar.

  17. Phil says:

    I know sometimes I’ve seen you in your BDUs, but speaking for myself, you look more “battle ready” in the cassock.

  18. iamlucky13 says:

    @ Uxixu

    “Philmont237, a deacon is a cleric and the church has never distinguished in the non-liturgical garb of different grades of clerics other than prelates. Having deacons wear something distinctive would distract from the idea of the clerical state, which has never previously before recent years been conflated to the priesthood alone.”

    On the other hand, a deacon can not hear confessions, and given how many priests I’ve heard stories from about being approached in public for confessions, I could see a benefit to such distinction.

    I grant that very few permanent deacons wear any sort of clerical garb except when actually performing a ministerial function, but plenty of transitional deacons do. And perhaps it would be a worthwhile practice for permanent deacons to return to.

  19. PTK_70 says:

    I’m not in the habit of telling grown men what to wear.

    Here, though, is my observation regarding wear of the black clerical suit (black blazer plus trousers): when accompanied by a stern face, the look is that of a banker or a lawyer. To avoid the appearance of cool, detached superiority, it helps for the wearer to have a smile or amiable look on his face. Not everyone can always walk around with an amiable look on his face.

    Maybe it’s me, but I tend to think that with a cassock, the priest can wear a variety of facial expressions and yet avoid the impression of cool, detached superiority.

  20. Felicia says:

    Deacons are clerics, therefore clerical dress is appropriate for them. Why is there any need to make Deacons visually distinctive from priests? If someone, say a server in a restaurant, accidentally calls a Deacon “Father” it’s not the end of the world. And if, in the scenario iamlucky13 posits of being randomly approached for confession, the Deacon can always say “I am a Deacon and do not have the ability to do this. However, if you’d like to got to confession, call Father X over at St. Y’s parish and he would be happy to hear your confession.” Really, it’s not that complicated!

  21. Ages says:

    I would agree with those who say deacons should wear clerical dress. They are ordained, after all. If someone approaches a deacon for a confession, it’s not difficult to say, “I’m a deacon and can’t absolve you, but I am here if you need someone to talk with.” I know some wise deacons who dispense very helpful advice, even if they can’t forgive sins. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    I have heard a number of anecdotes from clergy over the years that some non-Catholic people approach clergy just because they feel they can open up to them, and they’re not specifically looking for absolution of a sin. Sometimes people just need a “cup of cold water,” so to speak.

    Also, FWIW, I was taught the proper direct address for deacons is “Father So-and-so” (or somewhat more stale, “Father Deacon”), the reason being that the title is there for honor and respect, not to declare their liturgical function. Same reason we would not address a bishop to his face as “Bishop Somesuch”, but rather “Your Grace.”

  22. Nan says:

    So, “tropical dress” in lieu of white clerical shirt? Or Jesuit tendencies? A priest friend once described the habits of several religious ord3rs as I’m without a copy of “A Field Guide to the Religious of North America’.” He said Jesuits wear street clothes.

  23. First, I would never say anything against the cassock, although I would never wear one.

    From the time I was ordained in 1985, I always wore clericals when traveling. After 9/11, however, for the next ten flights I was on, I was always pulled out of line, frisked, and had my carry-on laptop searched. I was then relegated to the high security interrogation. I also lost, if I had it, my window seat because I was late on the plane. Once I went through this with a 90-year-old nun (in habit). I am sure she was a jihadist.

    Meanwhile many … fill on the blank … passengers were ignored. Nailing the priest (and nun) proves we don’t profile … fill in the blank … passengers. I stopped wearing clericals and was never harassed again by the government hacks. Yes, I should subject myself to indignities to present the flag, but I just got tired of the abuse.

    One of the benefits of being over 60, often taking regular domestic flights, and paying by the same credit card, now means that I am always TSE-Pre. Friars tell me things are better. But the one time, thanks to my unclear-on-the-concept travel agent, it was revealed that I was a religious, I lost my TSE-Pre, and was subjected to the same “security” screening. Okay. Perhaps I should suffer all these indignities as a priest, but frankly I have better uses of my time.

    Now, if I started getting the up-grades promised by one of the commenters, well, I might start wearing my habit on planes!

  24. majuscule says:

    Some time ago there was a “letter to the editor” in our diocesan newspaper from someone who did not like seeing seminarians in cassocks because it reminded him of when he was young and priests wore cassocks because they were church “royalty” and they needed to distance themselves from the common people.

    In a later issue a priest wrote a rebuttal explaining that cassocks were instituted at a time when men wore all sorts of complicated finery because cassocks were considered very plain. (I am paraphrasing–these letters are no longer on the diocesan website. I wish I had a link or had saved the explanation.)

    I think the “cassock wearing royalty” meme joins the “priest has his back to us” meme in the long list of derisive Catholic memes.

  25. JabbaPapa says:

    Father Z :

    In England… and in Wales?… it was illegal to wear the cassock in public. Perhaps it still is.

    I’m not sure that this has ever been the case, but it certainly is not now — at , the leader of the CoE is quoted (in an unpleasant story about a sex abuse by a defrocked vicar) as saying :

    The Most Reverend Justin Welby wrote in reply to Ms Duckworth: “Regrettably, although we can ban someone from ever officiating at worship and wearing robes for worship, or passing themselves off as a priest in good standing, we cannot prevent them from using the the title ‘the reverend’ or even wearing a clerical collar.”
    He continued: “In fact anyone is able to wear such dress, providing they do not do so for illegal purposes.
    “It is not contravening any law unlike say dressing as a police officer.”

    But this so-called CoE is anyway continuing its breakneck pace towards the elimination of anything even remotely resembling orthodox and genuine Christianity from its creeds and practices :

    Clergy to ditch their robes in further sign of dress-down Britain

    Church of England approves relaxation of canon law to allow its clergy to conduct services without traditional vestments

  26. JabbaPapa says:

    Uxixu :

    a deacon is a cleric and the church has never distinguished in the non-liturgical garb of different grades of clerics other than prelates.

    Claims exist that the use of a fascia is reserved to priests in positions of authority such as pastors or higher, but even in this case the custom is in use among some deacons and seminarians as well, and not repressed, so that it would seem that you’re perfectly right about this.

  27. Deacon Jason says:

    We have a young(er) associate pastor who regularly shows up in his cassock…I always make a point of telling him he’s “looking sharp today.”

    I wish the policy in my diocese would allow me to wear one as well, as it is a very comfortable and even understated garment that clearly bears witness to our identity as clerics and, more importantly, our availability. Nothing says “on duty” like a cassock.

    As previous posters have pointed out the rules for permanent deacons are both inconsistent and confusing across the US. I hope, at some point, more diocese will simply go with the universal law and allow us to make our own smart pastoral decisions about when the wearing of clerics is appropriate–a few already do.

    As for the issue of confusion: too late! Our parish has had permanent deacons for decades and I still get an automatic “Hi, Father” at least once a week even without the clerics. Usually I simply smile and say “well, I’m somebody’s father, but not yours”…then I (re)introduce myself and the confusion is cleared up. Often it leads into a good conversation as well.

  28. Gabriel Syme says:

    After the Cardiff story, I have resolved to wear a cassock when visiting the pubs in Scotland. Hopefully I will also be greeted with applause and free drinks – haha!

    Eponymous Flower has a similar story, regarding a German Bishop refused entry to a folk festival due to his “fancy dress”. That situation was also resolved amicably, but the article notes that Cardinal Marx had been present previously and celebrated mass while wearing a suit.

    The Church should take heed that, due to the modern trend of many priests wearing secular clothes, priests are now often invisible in society – to the extent that the appearance of clerical clothing in public is often assumed to be a joke.

  29. Sieber says:

    I remember once when a 2nd grader asked, “Hey, do you wear pants under that?”

  30. Imrahil says:

    Where I am from, we had recently a very beautiful festival the point of which is mediaeval reenactment.

    Now in order to understand the story: it so happens that the organizers don’t allow any visitor to appear in mediaeval costume, because they have good costumes and are quite right not to let the pseudo-middle-ages scene in. They are quite friendly to anyone appearing in ordinary street clothes.

    Enter Bishop Voderholzer of Regensburg, who said Mass and afterwards wanted to enter the festival ground in his episcopal cassock. “No”, says the security, “you can’t come in, people in costumes not ours don’t have access.”

    (True story. The responsible parish pastor afterwards cleared the Situation up and told the security that bishops do wear these clothes. Of Course, in itself he should have added that so do priests.)

  31. Martin_B says:

    two Points:
    First: The wearing of a cassock in the UK is no longer illegal and has not been since the relief act of 1926.
    Second: As mentioned before a deacon is a cleric and as such has the (canonical) RIGHT to wear a cassock, as this is the universial law of the church. His Bishoop can only make provisions about “other” clerical dress apart from the cassock. So he may deny him a black clerical shirt or even the clerical colar (with a suit) but the deacon may still wear the cassock.

  32. Neil Addison says:

    Martin You are quite right that it is not illegal to wear the Cassock in UK The Catholic Relief Act however was in 1829 not 1929. As an aside the priests of the ICKSP and FSSP who are established in the North West of England all wear the Cassock all the time and I’m told that it gets people to talk to them

  33. Martin_B says:

    The Catholic Relief Act of 1829 was in fact a relief for catholicism in the UK but it did not lift the ban on wearing clericals in public, instead is states:
    “XXVI. And be it further enacted, that if any Roman Catholic ecclesiastic, or any member of any of the orders, communities, or societies hereinafter mentioned, shall, after the commencement of this Act, exercise any of the rites or ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion or wear the habits of his order, save within the usual places of worship of the Roman Catholic religion, or in private houses, such ecclesiastic or other person shall, being thereof convicted by due courses of law, forfeit for every such offence the sum of £50.”

    This paragraph was only repealed by the aformentioned Relief Act of 1926.
    The major reason for this Act was in fact not lifting the ban on clericals but rather the possibility of processions in public.

    The Act itself is not found online (or at least i was not able to find it) but the official site of UK legislature shows the 1829 Act and states under No. 26 that this provision was repealed by the act of 1926.

  34. jaykay says:

    This rang a distant bell about something I remembered seeing on the New Liturgical Movement site back a few years ago concerning clerical dress and how using the cassock for street-wear was seen as a sign of liberalism, French-style, back in the early 19th century! That had always stuck in my mind, and this post sparked it again, so after searching the NLM site it turns out that there were 2 articles, back in September 2010, and while they were primarily about styles of clerical dress in the city of Rome in the 19th century nevertheless the reference to the cassock being initially seen as unsuitable for anything outside liturgical use, and being an unwelcome French influence, is there upfront. Here are the links:

    part 1:

    part 2:

  35. pelerin says:

    I had to smile at that story although I do find it sad that the Welsh pub thought at first that the visitors in clerical collars were in fancy dress.

    A couple of years ago after the weekly EF evening Mass (yes we are so lucky here) some of us invited our parish priest to a meal over in the pub across the road from the church. (In England a Catholic church is never far from a pub!) We were delighted to see that he joined us still wearing his cassock and do hope that he did not notice the strange looks given by some of the regulars there.

    Tomorrow I am going to Lourdes and shall be looking out for young priests in cassocks in order to find out where the EF Masses will be celebrated.

    I live next door to an Anglican church and some years ago we used to see the local vicar go down to the paper shop each morning still wearing his cassock. It struck us as strange that here was a C of E vicar not afraid to show the world his vocation in this way and yet our own priests were not willing to do so.

  36. oldconvert says:

    I live in England: I’ve not seen permanent deacons wearing the soutane here; the normal dress mostly seems to be a black suit, dark grey shirt, with clerical collar. It would be edifying to see more clergy in clerical dress out and about; one doesn’t get the same impression from open-neck sports shirts or lime-green bermudas! On a historical note, I believe that well into the 19th century, both Anglican and Catholic clergy normally continued to wear a stock (kind of plain white cravat) at a time when lay men were moving towards the ancestor of the modern tie. The clerical collar was, I understand, introduced by Jesuit priests (hence the name Roman collar?)

  37. ASPM Sem says:

    Martin B: while the sentiment of clerics have the right to wear the cassock is great, that’s not the case. Canon 284 states:

    Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops and according to legitimate local customs.

    At least in the US, the USCCB has decreed:

    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 addition to this, Article 89 of the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States says:

    The Code of Canon Law does not oblige permanent deacons to wear an ecclesiastical garb. Furthermore, because they are prominent and active in secular professions and society, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops specifies that permanent deacons should resemble the lay faithful in dress and matters of lifestyle. Each diocesan bishop should, however, determine and promulgate any exceptions to this law, as well as specify the appropriate clerical attire that is to be worn.

    My diocese has decreed that normal attire for a permanent deacon is normal lay attire, except when ministering when they wear a gray clerical shirt with Roman collar.

    So, for better or for worse, there is no canonical right for permanent deacons to wear the cassock; at the USCCB level, permanent deacons should dress like the laity but ultimately it’s up to the diocese.

    It is, however, entirely within the rights of a priest to wear the cassock if he so desires.

  38. un-ionized says:

    Iggy75, Yes, priests from tropical places often wear white. For example, I have seen African Benedictines at St. Meinrad in white habits.

  39. fishonthehill says:

    Thank You ASPM Sem for clarifying the situation of deacon attire in the USA… I believe there is a certain wisdom in this practice. Imagine deacons in cassock walking around with their wives!

  40. Hans says:

    I believe deacons in Chicago were forbidden to wear clerical collars by Cardinal George, lest the laity be confused that they were priests. I imagine that would apply a fortiori to the cassock.

    Permanent deacons of the archdiocese are not to wear clerical garb except as required, such as prison ministry (so that if things go south, the guards know who is who). I don’t have any. Seminarians of all sorts at The Seminary wear them on and off campus.
    I get called ‘father’ with a certain regularity, sometimes by people who know better; I find it’s best to tell them I’m a deacon with a bit of humor, as some people can be quite prickly when corrected: ‘You can tell because I have sleeves and father doesn’t, and [showing them] my stole is to the side so I can clean up any spills.’ I have been asked to hear confessions a few times, but of course …

  41. Hans says:

    I can’t say if the policy was instituted by Cardinal George or preceded him.

  42. This reminds me…. when I went to visit the reliques of St. François de Laval at the Basilique-cathédrale Notre Dame de Québec, I saw a priest, with a cassock, with the biretta, with the black shoes… he was dressed like a good solid priest. So I went up to him and started talking to him… only to realize he knew very little about religion and was only an actor telling visitors about Québec and Monseigneur de Laval.

  43. Joy65 says:

    Our Pastor always wears his clerical clothes and many times his cassock. It is great to see him dressed that way. Feels like it is correct, proper. No doubts.

  44. frjim4321 says:

    My guess is that objections expressed regarding cassocks are less about attire and more about the arrogance of most if not all [?!?] of the, especially younger, priests who wear them.

    [That’s incredibly insulting. I’ve had it.]

  45. Hans says:

    Strange as it may seem, Fr. Jim, but my experience in Chicago has been quite the reverse: the arrogant priests are older (usually ordained from the late ’60s to early ’80s, but especially through the mid-’70s) and usually in mufti, though not all such priests here are arrogant. Many are just fine holy men doing their best, but too many in that range have never had an unexpressed opinion, are wiser than Solomon (to hear them talk), and insulting (sometimes unintentionally). I can almost always see, and hear, them coming; I dread having to deal with them, though they don’t know me from Stephen. I keep my mouth shut and get through it, though I doubt they’d hear me anyway.

    The younglings, and I’ve dealt with many of them, are wonderful, even when they have no reason to suspect I’m a deacon. There was an article (cover story) in Time earlier this year about the new young priests that you might want to read.

  46. hwriggles4 says:

    In 2006, I made a four day discernment retreat at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. I was impressed that “cassock day” is celebrated in October, when pre theology and college seminarians receive cassocks. Many of the theology students and transitional deacons wore cassocks regularly there.

    I was at a men’s conference this past April and Fr. Dwight Longnecker was a speaker and wore his cassock.

    About a month ago, I learned that white cassocks are sometimes worn in the summer, particularly in humid climates and places where the temperature routinely is 95 to 100 degrees.

  47. GrumpyYoungMan says:

    Fr. Jim,

    Granted my experience may be more limited than yours, but I have yet to meet a priest of any age in cassock that was anything but pleasant. These are not only priests I’ve seen while on church property, but also those I’ve run into while going through airports or even walking down the street when I’m out of town.

    In fact, two of the most joyful priests I’ve ever talked with were in cassocks, and carrying saturnos at LAX a few months back. And they were quite young.

  48. pedantic_prof says:

    I grew up in a parish in the North of England that was served by Benedictine monks from Ampleforth Abbey. I was a teenager during the 1980s and our parish priest/pastor was a monk who had declined to alter the church and chapels in the parish (the parish church was and remains an untouched little masterpiece by Augustus Pugin), celebrated ad orientem, and everyone received on the tongue. When the diocese mandated Communion under both kinds, he administered it by intinction so that Communion in the hand would not start. It was at this church that I first heard the Old Mass celebrated the same pastor, and where my mother had her requiem celebrated in 2012 by a young priest of the diocese.

    Whenever Fr. Vidal went out he would wear a black suit and Roman collar (what the French and Italians call a “clergyman”) but on the moment of getting back to his presbytery, he would put his habit on. If he was driving from one church to another to celebrate Mass, he would drive in his habit. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

  49. Unreformed says:

    For years I used to see the late Canon Eric Mascall (RIP) on Bourne St. or at Sloane Square in cassock when walking from my flat at Cundy St flats to the tube station.

    Occasionally I would also see a wonderful procession with a veiled and jeweled statue of Our Lady of Peace as well as of the Blessed Sacrament under canopy with the canopy gentlemen in white tie and tails and gold vested clergy and acolytes and choir.

  50. TJV3 says:

    It has always struck me as strange to hear clergy griping about fellow clerics who wear the cassock. I have never heard doctors complain about wearing lab coats, or attorneys complain about wearing a suit when appearing in court, or a policeman distain the uniform. To complain about your official dress is to demonstrate inhibition over your identity – which is the heart of the matter with these priests. It is not the cassock that is disliked, it is authentic priestly identity that so disturbs them – which is why they often are so antagonistic toward the younger clergy, who tend to often wear the same cassock they reject precisely because of its clear message of priestly identity.

  51. Red_Shirt_Hero says:

    In my English diocese, with around 100 permanent deacons, I’d say only 5 regularly wear grey clerical shirts. The rest wear black, and at least one I know wears the cassock regularly outside of his liturgical functions.

  52. RichardT says:

    Much as I love the story about the Queen paying the Pope’s fine for wearing a cassock, it can’t be true. Even if the ban were still in place (and congratulations to Martin B for some fine legal research), the Pope is a foreign Head of State (of Vatican City) and so has broad immunity from criminal prosecution.

    Sadly in England, sights of a cassock in the wild are so rare that I would guess that someone seen in public in one is more likely to be an Anglican vicar than a Catholic priest.

  53. Nan says:

    My sometimes cassock wearing spiritual director has announced in his bulletin that henceforth he shall turn his back to the people on Saturday mornings, er, celebrate Saturday morning Mass ad orientam.

    [orientem… that’s good news]

  54. Nan says:

    What’s the point of vestments without doctrine?

  55. Fr. Aaron Sandbothe says:

    “Imagine deacons in cassock walking around with their wives!”

    And what would be the problem with this?

    As an Eastern Catholic, all of our married priests and deacons wear cassocks and go about with their wives and children. All of the married clergy of the Ordinariate do the same. It would do us all a lot of good if we would stop associating the clerical state with celibacy in a way that degenerates or makes married clergy seem exotic or ‘naughty.’

    Westerners can be so obsessed with never assuming that a deacon is a priest whereas this is something unheard of in the Orient. Anyone in clerics is more often than not referred to as “abouna” in Middle Eastern Christianity, from a priest to a deacon or subdeacon to even a cantor or seminarian, and no one thinks anything of it. Perhaps it is because our communities are close knit and everyone knows who everyone is? I suppose in the West where there are so many lay people and so few clergy the “anonymity” of the priesthood just allows people to assume the rank of a cleric, or that the West allowed a permanent class of minor clerics to go into extinction where the East has preserved a permanent diaconate, subdiaconate, etc, for centuries.

  56. Neil Addison says:

    Martin – Thanks for your correction to me I had missed the 1926 Act. Looking for some info on it I came across this site
    which gives some fascinating information on the, surprisingly difficult, background to the 1926 Act

  57. Filipino Catholic says:

    The only problem with the tropical white cassock is that it can be mistaken for the garb of the pope unless the piping and buttons are properly colored (as is the case for the bishops of the Philippines who do wear the tropical whites on occasion). Alas the priests here are never spotted in cassock, and the only time I’ve ever seen anybody in black cassock and collaro, the people in question turned out to be seminarians.

  58. Red_Shirt_Hero says:

    Surely – unlike seminarians or permanent deacons being mistaken for priests – I can’t imagine a cleric in the tropical white cassock being mistaken for the pope happens too often!

  59. GreggW says:

    “The arrogance of those who wear the cassock.” I long for the day that their (supposed) arrogance is the bane of the Church. The arrogance and related intolerance that I have witnessed and experienced has very frequently been from those who dissent – those who wish to impose their dissent on others.

  60. JamesA says:

    Why on earth does frjim even read this blog, much less comment on it ?!?

  61. Hey, I think we know that priest! Fr. B. Ues, he is always dressed sharply and is pretty easy to talk to, God bless him. The cassock is a walking sermon.

  62. Precentrix says:

    This just reminded me of the delightful incident (in France) when a small child turned to her grandmother and asked “Mamy, why is Father’s dress so ugly?”

    I resent the implication that those clerics who choose freely to wear the soutaine are in any way arrogant or stuck-up. They may be somewhat more reserved, but I think that is often the case with young priests anyway (at least when talking to young women). It is hard to be a prig while you’re covered in mud teaching the rugby team or hiking, or are in the middle of gutting a suckling pig ready to roast over an open fire.

  63. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I like seeing the younger priests and seminarians wearing the cassock. They seem to me to have a great pride in serving Jesus and the Church. Instead of complaining about them, I give thanks to God for each one of them. I pray they are still proudly wearing their cassocks after I am long dead and buried.

  64. Semper Gumby says:

    Cassocks are great. I read somewhere, it may have been in “Nothing Superfluous” by Fr. Jackson FSSP, that the cassock has 33 buttons- one for each year of Our Savior on Earth. And I think there’s a short prayer said while buttoning it.

    And that was a great pub story. Someone should put together a book on Catholics and pubs. The inspirational and educational stories, not tales of drunken hooliganism. From the inns of the Middle Ages to the Inklings and GK Chesterton’s “The Flying Inn.” And a chapter would have to be devoted to Irish pubs and that boon from God: a pint of Guiness.

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