The Priest, the Collar and the Cassock

Proper Priest. Properly dressed.

Read here a beautiful entry of a Catholic blog called The Deacon’s Bench about the many reasons why a Catholic priest should wear a Roman collar.

In reading it, though, I could not avoid thinking that many priests nowadays do not wear a clerical collar; they actually do not wear clerical garments at all. Why is that? Because they want to “mix”, be “one of us”, be considered “friends” rather than “pastors”.

So far, so bad.

But then one thinks: if the Church wants to be recognisable, why has the Church tolerated the spread of clerical garments (the so-called “clergyman”, at least in Italy) making them look pretty much like Anglican clergy?

If you modify clerical garments and make them more similar to normal garments (with trousers, shirt and jacket), why should you as an institution be surprised that some priests understand the motives of the modification and happily go further along this line of thoughts? And why – as we are by the questions – is this neglect of regulations happily ignored by countless bishops?

If you want to go back to make the priest recognisable as a Catholic priest, the best thing to do is to make him…. recognisable as a Catholic priest instead of as a possible Anglican clergyman.

The proper clerical garment (whenever appropriate) is not the “clergyman”.

It’s the Cassock.


Posted on July 28, 2010, in Catholicism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I quite agree. Priests should wear their cassocks (or habits, as the case may be).

    I think that “clergyman” is not widely used outside Italy (certainly, not in England). But it should be. It’s a useful word.

    I’m sorry to keep agreeing with you 😉

  2. Don’y worry, we’ll find a way to cope with that 😉

    How do you call the “clergyman” here in England?
    Must be one of those fake foreign words: like the Germans using “Handy” to say “mobile phone”….

  3. misericordia2

    “Clergyman” is a wonderful word. I love it!
    It solves the problem of what to call protestant ministers, who want to be referred to as priests. We can call them clergymen: and no-one could see that as insulting!

  4. Well Misericordia,

    I’d still say “Father” to the Catholic priest and “Mr Clergyman” to the Anglican vicar 😉

    But seriously, is there a name in English for “clergyman” (I mean, the clerical garment)?

  5. A name in English for “clergyman”? “Clericals”. I like “clergyman” better.

  6. misericordia2

    I have a good friend ,who is an Anglican clergyman, of the “high church” variety. As I know him well I just call him by his christian name, so no problems there. He always wears a black suit and Roman collar and he refers to this outfit as his clericals. I think “clericals” is the usual name for these clothes. In England the Roman collar is usually called a dog collar! Is it so called in Italy?

    • Oh, “the clericals”. Sounds fine.

      Yes the Italian translation of “Roman Collar” is “Collare Romano”, but you don’t hear it often. In Italy no one says “Roman Catholic”, and you don’t say “collare” but “colletto”.
      In daily parlance, you would more probably hear “colletto da prete” (“priest’s collar”).

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