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off duty

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 21, 2005

Commenting on Dom's blog, Patrick Sweeney makes an interesting point.

I think there's a culture evident in some priests of a "secret identity" they assume by dressing in non-clerical clothing and going to an area where they are not recognized as a priest, but taken for just another middle-aged guy.

Remember that Florida bishop with a fondness for places where "he could take off his collar and just be Bob"?

[postscript:] Picking up on the same discussion at the Catholic Light blog, in response to the suggestion that priests in uniform are often vexed by the unwanted attentions of loons, commentor Fr. JP adds this:

Our saintly rector at Mt St Mary's, Msgr Roeltgen, used to say, "If it can't be done with a collar on, it's something that you shouldn't be doing anyway."

Aside from the obvious exceptions like showering, I find that to be good advice. I'm sorry that your friar friend was besieged by nuts, but that is part of the mortification that goes with the habit. Habits are not supposed to be comfortable, either physically or socially. Weirdos latch on to me all the time, since I always wear my cassock in public. C'est la vie. It is an unwarranted aggravation for you, I concede, but it is part of your friar friend's life. He wears it precisely because it is a burden, as well as a sign and witness.

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  • Posted by: Sterling - Feb. 26, 2005 8:34 PM ET USA

    I remember when I was a young woman, girlishly flirting with a priest who was out of collar at a carnival. How was I to know he was a priest? My girlfriends had a good laugh, but I was KEENLY appalled when I realized. The flirting on my part was nothing objectionable - I merely had hopes of a date. Since the priest was at his own church's carnival, I don't see why he had to leave off his collar. Wouldn't he want to head off flirtations from young women? He would, wouldn't he?

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Feb. 24, 2005 3:45 PM ET USA

    The collar does not make the priest, but it is a constant reminder to me of who God has called me to be, & the collar informs others of who I am & invites them to talk to me, go to confession, etc. As for "Father E" & "gentlemangym": priests who wear non-clerical garb most of the time, are, in general, wanting to "blend" with the people & to reject Church authority/Teaching. As priests, we are set apart, by God, to serve Him & His people. God calls us to be in persona Christi capitas.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 22, 2005 9:50 PM ET USA

    I am a homeschooling mother of 5, including a seriously handicaped 21 year old-the best job in the world! A priest once told me he felt sorry for me, being tied to these kids 24/7. I gladly bring/accompany my children everywhere, as a sign of my joy in my vocation. In the same way, I sport my wedding ring. It would seem a small thing for a man to wear the uniform of his priestly vocation as a witness and beacon to the poor sinners (that's all of us) that we pray for each day.

  • Posted by: Novus744 - Feb. 22, 2005 9:39 PM ET USA

    What kind of priest would compare himself to Superman or Batman?! I can't help thinking that the root of this problem is either a lack of intelligence, which I am finding all the time, or lack of religious instruction.If a priest doesn't wear a collar all the time, he sends a signal to lay people that it's okay to break off from God sometimes.He isn't taking his job seriously enough, & needs to be better instructed.It is another problem resulting from abusing VII.Your call is to God, not bonding

  • Posted by: - Feb. 22, 2005 9:07 PM ET USA

    Gentlemangym: "Chastity belts for priests"-GREAT IDEA! When I see a priest out of clerical garb in public, I lose respect for him. Many and obvious questions arise, e.g. Why does he not want to be seen in clerical garb?, Is he ashamed of being a priest?, Does he lack the courage to be a visible priest in this world?, Does he want to be free to do "naughty" things without getting disapproving looks from others? Priests live a special vocation and must demonstrate this internally and externally.

  • Posted by: quill - Feb. 22, 2005 6:36 PM ET USA

    Absurd! this concern over clerical garb. Superman and Batman don't stay in costume all the time. Do we wear sandals since Jesus mentioned them to missionaries? Togas as Romans? Come off it! I'm fifty years ordained come June, forty lived in a "pagan" nation. I wore recognizable clerical garb a tiny percentage of the time. No Eleventh Commandment mentions Roman collars. Will we reinvent chastity belts, for priests? Put on your priesthood. Otherwise, dress to suit the occasion.

  • Posted by: coach1 - Feb. 22, 2005 2:06 PM ET USA

    Last Sunday, Gino, but he passed in front of the Tabernacle - off to the side of the altar about 5 times without genuflecting. He did not assist in distributing Holy Communion - left that to the Eucharistic Ministers and the Presider.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 22, 2005 11:46 AM ET USA

    We all need a vacation, & priests both deserve & need them too, even more than we do. They can do so w/the purest of intentions & the best of outcomes. As in everything, it all comes down to motive, intent, honest need. I marvel @ the endurance, patience, steadfastness of priests--I'd be ready for a strait-jacket after only 5 minutes on the other side of the confessional screen, let alone everything else they must contend with. Another thing: Men DO need bonding time w/other men--it IS okay.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Feb. 21, 2005 7:26 PM ET USA

    Perhaps a better analogy to removing the collar for inappropriate activities would be a married man or woman removing a wedding band, for something other than operating dangerous machinery say, such as cruising the bars. For priest or married man/woman this is cause for raised eyebrows. There are situations where one is obligated to proclaim one's vowed state, not hide it.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 21, 2005 7:04 PM ET USA

    When was the last time you saw a Secular priest in a cassock?

  • Posted by: peco - Feb. 21, 2005 5:00 PM ET USA

    Oh, please Father E, I don't think that anyone is talking about the situations that you mentioned. If they are then that is their problem. But to try to deny that many, many priests either, habitually, rarely wear thier collars or do so only reluctantly is to ignore reality. The priesthood is more than a job, just as my calling to the married life is more than a job. If more priests followed the Church guidelines there would be a lot fewer problems.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 21, 2005 3:25 PM ET USA

    O.K., now we are going to have a witch hunt for priests who are not in their clerics when they are: riding their bike; at the beach; having a Big Mac with his nephews on his day off; at his grandmother's house.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 21, 2005 1:48 PM ET USA

    They select and train for a unique vocation, take special vows, and like their married counterparts submit to a special but different initiation ceremony, but then they want to be "just one of the guys"? Ask the average wife, pace to Hillary, how she feels about being left behind while her husband spends his time with the guys. The most common answer is divorce.

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