ASK FATHER: When could priests wear casual attire? | 10/12/2019 | View all posts by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf →
ali11ali11 (Posted by) Level 3


In the United States, I imagine you would agree, it is not uncommon to see priests in very casual attire. Under what circumstances (if any) would the traditional modus operandi allow for dressing down (i.e. not wearing a cassock)? A private gathering of family and friends? The morning grocery run? Never?

It’s complicated.

The fact is that wearing the cassock out and about was not the custom for priests in the USA. The Council of Baltimore legislated that priests were not to use the cassock as their regular street dress, but rather the frock coat (like today’s suit). They wore the cassock around the parish grounds, church, campus, etc. So, right away, there is a slight distancing in US clerical culture from the cassock as daily wear out and about.

Generation - Priests - Decorum - Lot - Aspects

However, a generation of priests pretty much shattered decorum and quite a lot of the good aspects of clerical culture. Thus, today, younger priests are not plugged into the ways of their predecessors. I, for example, had the advantage when I came into the Church of being around priests who were quite a bit older, ordained in the 1940’s. In their company I...
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