another episcopal fumble

By Diogenes (articles - email) | 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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