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another episcopal fumble

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Sep 14, 2010

Another “gotcha” for the British press. The Birmingham Mail asked Archbishop Bernard Longley how he could justify all the fancy vestments used in papal ceremonies. His reply:

The cloaks and cassocks aren’t used to set the clergy apart from the Catholic laity. They are symbols of service to God, not earthly pride.

A bad answer to the wrong question, from a prelate who should have been prepared. Only in the fever-swamps of anti-Catholicism will you find people who object to “cloaks and cassocks.” The question obviously refers to miters and chasuables. Yes, these vestments are “symbols of service to God,” in a way. But laymen too should be dedicated to the service of God, and they don’t wear these vestments. The priests’ vestments are worn precisely to set the sacred ministers apart from the laity: to signify that when they wear these vestments, these priests are not acting as ordinary men act.

We’ve only just recently concluded the Year for Priests, called by Pope Benedict to help priests and bishops regain a full appreciation for their distinctive ministry. If this is the outcome, we might need another year. 

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  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Sep. 15, 2010 4:27 PM ET USA

    The description from Haiti sounds very beautiful and very holy...very simple and very humble....very much in keeping with Truth and the Word.

  • Posted by: jflare293129 - Sep. 14, 2010 10:09 PM ET USA

    I think this answer..fair. The media likely doesn't care about Truth. Bishops have insisted on food and schools over vestments and cathedrals for some time. Schools often neglect Truth, food lasts only a few hours. Vestments and cathedrals provide witness to Truth that provides all the food and education that people must have to reach heaven. All who use cathedrals, beautiful churches, and vestments provide living witness to Truth that fills our most critical needs.

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Sep. 14, 2010 10:03 PM ET USA

    I remember a Mass I concelebrated in Port au Prince, Haiti. The little children were in their only good clothing, the principal celebrant was vested well but not richly, the Missionaries of Charity were there, and everyone was singing in Creole. These very poor people worshiped God with the best they had. Their daily lives are truly poor and they need to be transformed in the Sunday liturgy; else there would be no let-up from their daily struggle.

  • Posted by: kmbold - Sep. 14, 2010 7:40 PM ET USA

    "This (perfumed oil) could have been sold and the money given to the poor..." comes to mind when I hear such a worn-out comment. People who make liturgical vestments actually work for their living. No doubt it was also a labor of love for Christ and the church (rich and poor). People in the pews are starved for beauty, and if they see a little of it in beautiful vestments that's good. We can buy vestments AND help the poor; one does not negate the other. Bring on the embroidery!

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Sep. 14, 2010 7:08 PM ET USA

    I think that the apostles didn't need special garb to set them apart as men of God. Their lives, love, words and behavior in following Christ made clear their roles. I do find it hard to see money spent on such things when so many human beings, including children, are starving and in such physical and spiritual misery around the globe (take just Haiti and Pakistan). Increasingly, I find it necessary to stop making unnecessary purchases and donate what I have to end such misery.

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