I don't get too worked up over what Faddah Zed writes these days. Perhaps I've become immune to his shtako as a result of over exposure. For some reason the tone of this post caused my own panties to bunch up considerably. Perhaps it is the tone. Here I will give it my standard and trademarked Father D Treatment of emphasis and comments.
Full disclosure; Father D wears his cassock semi-regularly. He finds it very comfortable. He enjoys the fact that he can wear shorts or sweat pants and a tee shirt underneath it. Around the church on Sundays and feast days, to the hospital or nursing home it is great. Elsewhere the suit and collar are more appropriate. People I serve are more comfortable.
A reader asked Zuhlsdorf about bishops wearing suits versus cassocks, implying that if more adopted the cassock they would be providing a shining example of episcopal leadership. Here is his reply.
First, I am glad you are concerned about decorum. I have no doubt that you are always exactly properly dressed according to everyone else’s expectations in each and every circumstance. Forgive me. I'm going to be very judgmental here. What a douche bag! LOWLY LAY reader writes ... Therefore, FATHER John I'm-Ontologically-Different-UGH! I need a beer.
From-And-Infinitely-Superior- To-You ZERO has to begin his answer with a paragraph of snarky sarcastic put down. Because she's just that kind of bitch, boys and girls (mostly boys).. but I digress..
Next, I limit myself to custom in these United States. It's not "these United States." This crap is just old. Perhaps he thinks he's a founding father?
It was, and still is, not the custom for secular, diocesan priests and bishops in these USA to wear the cassock as “street attire”. Yes, some young pups are wearing the cassock all the time, when they go about town. Fine. Perhaps they will establish a new practice. Young pups = young nuts. To wear a cassock everywhere in public in a country where clerical suits have been the norm since 1888, is to scream: LOOK AT ME, EVERYBODY, I AM SO SPECIAL!!!! The "young pups" are establishing enough "new practices" that are actually reviving old practices that were obsolete four generations before they were born. See the pews packed lately? However, the usual practice in these USA go back to the Councils of Baltimore, which forbade clerics from using the cassock as dress attire, imposing instead secular dress but with a clerical collar. For a long while the standard was the frock coat, which we don’t see much of anymore. Perhaps we should try to revive this as well? Today, standard street dress for the diocesan cleric is the black suit. Of course the cassock is always appropriate for anything liturgical and when the cleric is in his assigned place, such as a school or hospital.
Another point, for bishops at least, is practical. These days, most (I think. I don't see much evidence of that really) bishops drive themselves about. I think that is imprudent, but – hey! – they don’t ask me about such things. Never stopped him from offering him an opinion before. Say His Nibs is in a cassock and something happens along the way. He’s in his cassock, which might not be the best attire at the moment. I am speculating at this point, but that could have something to do with it.
Lastly, I have to say that clerical decorum has nearly completely broken down. All you have to do is look at a group of concelebrants. There are hardly two vested similarly when it comes to alb, cincture. Let’s not even talk about proper choir dress. What a disaster that is. They enter and exit in their white gunny sacks looking like the end of the shift at the Tasty Bakery. This from a bonafide BLIVIT (that's US military for 250 pounds of shit in a 150 pound back. And that's the nut, in a nutshell. It strikes me that most priests and bishops of a certain age haven’t a clue about how to dress. Says the man who lives in a large city that insists on wearing cargo pants with three dozen pockets in them everyday. Furthermore, they would say, “Oh, I don’t go in for all that stuff!”, as if they are somehow to be thought humble. I don’t see any virtue in adopting a stance of contempt for your proper dress or vestments or uniform. Humility submits to decorum. Putting on the gear, and putting it on correctly, shows respect for the office and role you hold. It shows respect for the people you encounter. They don’t want to see their bishops and priests slouching about in shapeless white bags or looking like a hotel clerk. I suppose as long as you treat them as lowly peasants and give them a good talking down to, you might as well wrap yourself in water silk while doing so.
You, however, are also reacting to photos I posted of a conference I attended. And he knows this how?? There were quite a few bishops there. Yes, and Father took every opportunity to kiss their, UM -- rings and have his picture taken with them. They were in black suits. This was at a hotel/resort. It was a secular setting, not a church. The prelates used cassocks for liturgies (Mass and office and Benediction). Religious priests quite properly wore their habits, according to their customs. Diocesan priests were in black suits. Except for you Father Z. You were in shirt sleeves. But then again you're not really a diocesan priest are you? Gyrovague.
Were there to have been a truly formal moment, such as a black tie evening event, then the diocesan clerics would have been properly dressed in a house cassock appropriate for their status, with the proper fascia, and a ferraioulo. Mine would be black, a bishop’s violet or paonazza, a cardinal’s porpora sacra.
So, that’s it in a nutshell. We are in a transition period. Oh? Do tell. I think that the customs will change for the better, but it will take time. In the meantime, in these USA, don’t look down on a priest who wears the black suit and Roman collar when out and about in public. Preach on O Wise Sage! That’s the custom for the diocesan clerics if (don't you mean IN??) this country. When being a pretentious prick, it's best to proof read your texts. Yes, I say this from experience.
And, yes, it is my hope that cleric decorum improves. More properly that should read "clerical decorum." And, yes, I would like to see more bishops in their proper gear more often. Gear? WTF!? I think we see this as the Biological Solution keeps working us all over. BS is right.