Why do some priests wear religious clothes while others don’t?
Priests are normally expected to wear clerical dress, but there are exceptions in different countries or cultures. Usually the norms are set by the Bishops’ Conference of the region, but in some cases the conference will allow local bishops to set their own norms. This allows for adaptation and flexibility according to ‘legitimate local custom’. For example, in both Australia and Canada the bishops have set a rule that priests should be “identifiable as clerics”, whereas the bishops of England and Wales merely say that “the existing customs … are to be continued”. In Italy, a black, grey, or dark blue clerical suit is to be used in place of the cassock. In Canada, priests may identify as priests by wearing a small cross on the lapel of their suit. People will immediately recognise their clerical status. In other regions, especially in public, liturgical situations, the Roman collar is often the best way to identify oneself as a cleric.
Most popular questions
- I feel I have a specific charism to youth outreach. Can I live this charism out as a priest, or must I follow the charism of the order I join?
- If I request information about joining a religious organisation, will I be pressured into joining?
- Can I become a bishop or cardinal and not a priest?
- I read stories of religious communities merging or closing down. Are religious organisations dying out?
- Can a gay man become a priest?
- I do not consider myself to be exceptionally holy, I try to pray every day and follow the commandments. I have always been very interested in the priesthood but I have never felt a burning passion for it. Could I still be called to the priesthood?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?
- If I take a vow of celibacy, will I get very lonely?
- What can I do as a priest that I cannot do as a layperson working for a charity or NGO?
- What’s the difference between a diocesan priest and a priest in a religious order?