Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Capes are back... abito piano

"Oh, what a lovely cape.  Is it mink?"

Did they ever go out?

For some priests, yes.  I have a friend who while still a parish priest complained that the new rector of a minor seminary near him had all the men dress in cassocks.  "I wouldn't be caught dead in one."  Now he's a bishop and has little choice in the matter.  It isn't just my 'age group' of men who are priests who prefer suit to cassock, yet those who do seem to be out of favor these days.  (I have friends who are priests who despise the biretta as well.  Not a few devout Catholics are waiting for them to die.)

That said, as many Catholics in the blogisterium already know, the Vatican (Bertone) issued a memo reinforcing the dress code for Vatican employees.  It makes sense.  Evidently it is a signal for the rest of the world as well:
Tornielli said the letter was aimed at refreshing the minds of those who work at the Vatican but also to say that this extends beyond the walls of the Holy See. He added, “it is very rare for priests in the Apostolic Palace not to dress like priests.”

“The call for priests to be more law-abiding and look impeccable is meant to be a subtle example for those who come to the Vatican from outside and are just passing through Rome,” Tornielli said.

Cardinal Bertone's letter, written at Pope Benedict's bidding, recalls a 1982 letter of Pope John Paul II to his vicar general encouraging him to “study opportune initiatives destined to foster the use of ecclesiastical and religious dress.”  
Cardinal Bertone said that bishops should faithfully wear the cassock every day during office hours at the Vatican as an example to the clerics who visit the Holy See.

He reminded clerics that at official and papal events, they are to wear the more formal “abito piano.” For bishops and cardinals, this is a cassock with an embroidered cape; for monsignors, a black cassock with piping of Roman purple; and for priests, a cassock with cape. - CNA
Men in cassocks - very picturesque, and even more fun to paint.

Just stay away from fur Father.



  1. A certain priest known to me was ecstatic when named Msgr. He commissioned a a purple overcoat to match his new wardrobe.

    All is vanity.

    1. I thought they just wore purple trim?

    2. On cassocks, yes. Outerwear is at one's leisure.

  2. .......(I have friends who are priests who despise the biretta as well. Not a few devout Catholics are waiting for them to die.).......


    I will however take this time to present what one of my heros his eminence the late Cardinal Siri had to say about cassocks:

    "It (the cassock)is the first thing that is seen and the last thing that is laid aside. It is a reminder of commitment, of belonging, decorum, union, team spirit and dignity! It does this continuously. It consequently creates limits in action, calls to mind these limits incessantly, instigates the barrier of modesty, of a good name, of one’s own duties, of public resonance, and of the consequences of malicious interpretations. […]

    "....I believe it is difficult for the ecclesiastical spirit to exist in our times, because of its characteristics, if the desire and respect for the ecclesiastical habit is absent. […] It is not only with “ecclesiastical dress” that we are concerned here, but with the cassock itself.

    And let us face reality, without any fear of what can be said about it. […] Some, in order to boycott the use of the cassock or to justify giving in to the current fashion against it, affirm: “Anyway, the cassock is a liturgical garment” - with this, they want to reduce the cassock to liturgical use only. This is openly false and insidiously hypocritical! […] Frankly, it is clear that the clergyman's suit […] is not the most desirable solution. Will he who does not love his cassock be able to resist and love his service to God? Our neighbor does not substitute God! He who does not love his uniform is no soldier. […] "

    "....The line to take is the following:

    *Even if the law admits the clergyman's suit, among the people, it does not represent the ideal solution;
    *Those who mean to have an intact ecclesiastic spirit must love their cassock; […]
    *That the defense of the cassock be the defense of vocation and vocations.

    My duty as Pastor obliges me to look at things very much from afar. I had to reproach the introduction of the clergyman's suit above the law, and the degradation of ecclesiastical dress are a cause, probably the primary one, of the serious decay in ecclesiastical discipline in Italy. Those who love the priesthood do not play around with the uniform!"

    (Excerpts of “A Te Sacerdote [To you, Priest], vol. II” by Cardinal Giuseppe Siri. Casa Mariana, Frigento, 1987, pp 67 -73 - S

  3. Cassocks are cool. If I was a priest, I would always want to wear one.


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