Bishop calls on clergy to "wear the ecclesiastical garb"

This news comes from the Philippines:

A Catholic bishop today called on all clergy to observe the Church’s dress code, especially when they appear in public “as an integral part of priestly decorum.”

Bishop Leonardo Medroso of Tagbilaran, a canon lawyer, said ecclesiastical garb is not the external sign of the priesthood but an indicator of the “spiritual and priestly life” of the person concerned.

Some “shrink” from wearing the proper attire, he noted, preferring to go around in public in ordinary clothes.

This does not mean they are necessarily ashamed of their identity as priests or that they have a weak sense of their clerical identity, he said.

“Rather, they do not like to get attention from people, who because of the attire, afford them privileged treatment, or to be looked down on or given suspicious glances,” Bishop Medroso said.

“They prefer to be left alone, free and unperturbed,” he added.

The real purpose of priestly attire, according to the bishop, is to serve as public testimony that the one wearing ecclesiastical dress is an ordained minister.

That is why, Bishop Medroso says, “the Church is insistent that her ordained ministers wear the ecclesiastical garb.”

Read the rest.

He seems to be directing his remarks to priests,  but could the bishop also be referring to deacons?

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22 responses to “Bishop calls on clergy to "wear the ecclesiastical garb"”

  1. Our deacon program director is allergic to clerical garb, because he thinks it makes deacons conceited and confuses the people. I respectfully disagree, I think that in some settings such as hospital chaplaincy or ministry, prisons (I think prisons require using clerical garb), ceremonies and other public places where clerical garb can be a witness it should be used. At the liturgy of the Mass deacons wear the dalmatic an other liturgical vestments. I tend to agree with the bishop in the article and its application to permanent deacons.

  2. We just had this topic arise at our Summer Day of Recollection and I was happily surprised by what I heard. Our program has a new director (just finished first year on the job) and other seasoned deacons attended along with candidates. By and large the thought it this: whenever engaged in ANY formal ministry as a deacon or attending any function as a rep of the parish or other official capacity then clerical garb is in order and should be worn. Our archdiocese leaves this up to the choice of the individual and we have a few who wear the always (except at secular work, etc) and some who never do.

    The mood is definitely changing. Almost all the candidates are pro-clerical garb and very many of the veteran deacons are coming over to that view, judging by what was shared at the Day of Recollection. Interesting and thankful that their reasons are always “other-oriented” and they have come to see that more often than not it is a plus and not a minus.

    Also of interest was the emphasis to all present that the dalmatic is to be worn at Mass, using the chasuble of the priest as a guide (i.e., if he is in chasuble, you are in dalmatic). The alb/stole combo alone we are told is to be reserved for larger celebrations where there are not enough dalmatics to go around, and to appear at Sunday Mass without the dalmatic was likened to being “partially dressed”.

  3. diakonos09 – May I ask what Diocese you are in? So far we are not permitted to wear clerical garb, but we are keeping an eye on what seems to be more and more Dioceses going this route. Thank you!

  4. I doubt the bishop would have included deacons in his thinking, Greg. The Philippines does not recognize the permanent diaconate, and deacons on their way to being piriests have pretty well always been exempted from restrictions placed on permanent deacons.

    Our local diocese dictates that permanent deacons should not wear clerics or even a roman collar, although many do anyway when in ministry situations.

    The diocese by its actions seems embarrassed by the fact that there are any permanent deacons at all.

    Que sera sera I guess.

    God bless

  5. Deacon Bill Dietwig weighed in on this over a month ago. His opinion is dalmatics are the signs of diaconate ordination.

    Wearing the roman collar is not included in the discussion but I would like to hear his opinion.
    My diocese is not declaring a position at this time.

  6. The GIRM makes plain: “The vestment proper to the deacon is the dalmatic.” End of discussion. There is some latitude about wearing just an alb and stole, but dalmatic is to deacon as chasuble is to priest.

    The collar thing varies from diocese to diocese. We don’t wear it in Brooklyn. They do, however, just across the river, in Manhattan (at the Arch of NY.)

    Dcn. G.

  7. Many parishes don’t own and some cannot afford a set of dalmatics. I have seen many deacons function at the altar with alb and stole.
    I think deacons when ministering at wakes, hospitals and similar situations should wear clerical attire.

  8. In keeping with the very Roman picture above, all ordained clergy in the Latin Rite should be permitted to wear decent clerical garb, be given allowances for purchase and maintenance of same, in addition to saturno hats and plenty of cigarettes. 😉

  9. We prefer all ordained clergy wear a recognizable sign that they are ordained. That includes deacons and priests. However the local Ordinaries are the final authority and our Roman deacons are forbidden to wear clericals. We make do with name tags.

    Our Episcopal, Lutheran and Orthodox deacons wear collars.

  10. This is the devil’s advocate view point. . . many don’t think of deacons of the permanent variety as clerics. This goes for many seminarians, priests, and bishops who think the renewal of the diaconate to be a mistake of Vatican II. I don’t know about you but the reconciliation with the SSPX and the Vatican concerns me because the SSPX refuse to recognize the permanent diaconate as being clerics or ordained ministers of the church. I think many in our diocesian organizations feel the same way. I heard a bishop say once that permanent deacons are not clerics as priests are; they are geared different to be ministers to those in need. Really?? The bishop laid hands on me and it looked and felt like an ordination.

    If you look at what has happened recently, many diocese restrict items that have traditional been recognized as part of the diaconate (both permanent and transitional). Examples include the restriction of the use of Rev. Mr.; the wearing of clerical attire including cassocks (which have a collar); many don’t invite deacons as an order to diocesian events such as ordinations of bishops and priests or Chrism Masses or eucharistic assemblies or processions of the Holy Eucharist or (I think you get my point). Many restrict or disallow permanent deacons to preach. Some don’t want deacons to lead communion services at all.

    The church in the US need to make up their minds. Either they want deacons or they don’t. If they don’t, stop ordaining them and let the order die out again. Why keep something around that is going to be slammed every step of the way. Protestant deacons and clergy get more respect for the work they do than those of the deacons who minister to the poor, sick, elderly every day. I don’t think many of the deacons would change what they do in the community – they would continue to be leaders in their ministries.

    It is time for decisions and for those in authority to make a choice – yes or no. It is that easy. I am hanging up my devil’s advocate attire. . . .

  11. Deacons ARE ORDAINED CLERGY, albeit of a different class and nature than that of the priesthood but they are part of the Holy Orders. I do think that there is an ambivalence from both the priesthood and the lay faithful about Deacons, and that reflects on the reluctance to allow them to wear clerical garb.

  12. Good idea to have clergy actually be visible as clergy. I also think it was a huge mistake when nuns left wearing their habit. I notice the women religious groups who still wear their habit are flourishing in new vocations as The Anchoress does such a good job on with her blog.

    Also believe that the deacon should have something they were which very clearly shows them different from the priest so there is no confusion.

  13. @Greta: Perhaps a different color for the Roman Collar (gray, dark red or something like that).

    I don’t think deacons should wear clerical clothes always, for example at work, home, etc. But in appropriate settings where an identifiable presence acts as witness to the ministry of the Church.

    As far as confusion, many Catholics confuse deacons with priests even when deacons are wearing plain clothes. Actually in my volunteer work in nursing homes even I get called father even though am a lay person and wearing very non clerical garb like a polo shirt.

    As said before in other comments, as Catholics we need more information and catechizing about what deacons are and do.

  14. I have enough trouble with “oh so you are a deacon father”, that I would want to further confuse the issue by wearing “clerical garb”. I wear a 2″ deacon’s cross on a rawhide necklace that identifies me as a deacon and that seem to work just fine. It has identified me satisfactorily for the past 10+ years in hospitals and prisons as well as restaurants as a Catholic deacon, a servant of Christ.

  15. What is annoying is that, in my diocese anyway, seminarians in First Theology, years away from being ordained, are allowed, apparently required to wear clerical attire even though they aren’t clerics, and deacons are, if not strictly forbidden, strongly discouraged from wearing the Roman collar. Furthermore, when it comes to titles (“call no permanent deacon Father”) I recall that years ago at St. Anselm Abbey, when the monk-seminarians (attending seminary in Boston) were ordained deacons, they were addressed as “Father.” IMO, based on that, it is appropriate to call permanent deacons “Father,” as well. And the seminarian transitional deacons get the title Rev. Mr., but for some reason the bishops don’t want the title applied to other deacons. It seems as if our bishops are trying to pretend that their permanent deacons are only play deacons, and the transitional ones are the real deacons.

    Permanent deacons, if someone calls you “Father,” don’t correct him/her, because s/he is right.

  16. That’s permanent deacons, of course, who are discouraged from wearing the Roman collar. The trannies have been doing it for years before they become clerics.

  17. I have been ordained for 10 years next month. In my diocese we allowed to wear clerical shirts with collars, and the deacon’s cross on a chain which distinguishes us from priests. After a decade of this practice, there is no confusion at all in my diocese.

  18. About a month ago, I celebrated being a permanently ordained deacon for 33 years. Since that time all of my bishops have made it clear that only on the most restricted situations should I and my colleagues even consider wearing a Roman Collar. I do own one.

    I bought it in Fall 2007 just before leaving for a Pilgrimage to Rome and I wore it once there, at the traditional papal Wednesday audience. My black suit coat also had a traditional deacons’ cross pin on it just to make sure folks knew I was not a priest.

    I also wore my Roman Collar once since then — I was attending a “Prison Ministry Orientation” program which included a tour of a major state correctional facility. I also wore my Deacon Cross Pin on my shirt as well.

    Bottom line: examples of two places that required it and I wore it. Don’t plan on using it very often.

  19. With the priestly scandal over the years and the continuation of it in Ireland,

    I can understand why priest want to dress “undercover”

    Its really too bad.

    I can remember as a child to see a priest in a cassock or clerical garb it set a tone of respect toward or priests.

    I am afraid today, that if a priest wore a cassock, he would either be attacked or mocked.

    As in a lot of cases it appears the bishops are out of touch in so many issues.

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