Poll: Should Seminarians Wear Clerical Clothing

I was discussing this matter with someone a few days ago, and I thought it would be interesting to ask a large group of people.

Just to clarify: when I say “clerical clothing,” for the purpose of polling, I do not distinguish between any particular type of clerical clothing (vests, shirts, cassocks, habits).

Additionally, to try and prevent any bias from seminarians themselves, I have separated the poll between permanent deacons and laypersons; and seminarians and priests.

From what Ive seen they already do

There’s no set policy. It varies diocese to diocese, and seminary to seminary. I was discussing whether or not it would be worthwhile to establish regional or universal norms with a friend.

In my diocese, all seminarians wear clerical dress (cassocks during the celebration of mass, and plain black [without roman collar] elsewhere), and are distinguished from priests by the presence of one crucifix on the collar instead of the one either side of collars the priests wear.

This is a hard one.

At my seminary, the seminarians do not don clerical clothing. We put on more of a formal dress (black dress shoes and pants, white dress shirt, tie and suitjackets on Solemnities, Sundays and other needed occasions). I have not had any problem with this sort of outfit.

However in my opinion, clerical clothing (especially cassocks and birettas) would look awesome on seminarians! Just the way the cassock flows when you walk, it really makes me feel like a priest! Sometimes I like to walk around in the Seminary with a cassock just for the feel of it (of course, I am taking the cassock somewhere, but taking on my body). Aside from the point, I feel like having seminarians wear clerical clothing is sort of like trying to give an image that you are holy and a priest-to-be when you really are not. (I don’t know?) Wearing them in the liturgy, I don’t know too. It could be good, could be not. It could be helpful in public for evangelizing, but I don’t know how many seminarians (or even priests for that matter) would be comfortable walking around with a cassock or some other type of clerical garb on.

This is a hard topic. I hope other people will post better answers than mine! :thumbsup:

Before Vatican II they (we) had to wear cassock (habit etc.) all the times after tonsure. We’re forgetting on beauty of tradition roman cassock. :frowning:

This is a difficult question that longs for clarification.

It is my opinion that when one enters the Major Seminary (Theology), he ought to be permitted to wear the Cassock. However, those in College Seminary (like I am) ought to be restricted to formal attire of the black and white variety, and then casual attire for classes. Remember, the men in a college seminary some times have to take classes at secular institutions. Going in to a 20 person class at a state college dressed in a flowing Cassock and fringed fascia, as well as a capello romano on your head might draw negative attention and distract one’s goal of formation.

One thing I wish though, and this is my private wishes speaking, any time a cassock is worn a white collar should be allowed to be worn under it. It just looks empty, like a puzzle without a piece. Incomplete.

Seminarians should be identifiable in their role, particularly at liturgies the question though is how best to achieve this.

In my seminary, as for Facite, we do not wear cassocks but do dress formally for special occasions (including liturgies). The difficulty I have with cassocks, aside from the cost, is that they can become something which a person can hide behind, allowing them to present an “other self” to those that they meet. This would obviously be reduced if cassocks were only worn for liturgical occasions. That said, the limited amount of use would make it difficult to justify the cost. As well, seminarians also need to be identifiable as such outside of liturgical events but a cassock is not the most practical garment… As far as I know, there are no seminaries in the UK which wear cassocks and only one in Australia.

Ultimately, like collars and priests, wearing (or not wearing) a cassock isn’t what makes a seminarian who they are. If you want to know how healthy a seminary is, don’t look at what their students are wearing but at how they relate to and treat each other.

I agree that seminarians who are now in major seminary should be permitted to wear the cassock, but the collar should be restricted to ordained clergy only–deacons (whether permanent or transitional), priests and bishops. This is my personal view, but I do acknowledge some dioceses don’t permit deacons (only permanent ones) to don clerical garb at any time, even when engaged in ministry as a deacon–which I find astonishing. In this increasingly secular world in the West, the people need to see MORE Catholic clergy in the open. This can lead to prayerful conversation, teaching and simply an increased awareness of the Church in modern society. I pray the bishops will unite in mandating that ALL ordained clergy wear clerical garb as often as possible and not just on Sundays or before/after mass.

why is there a vote on something that is none of our business. as i understand it this is the purview of the Ordinary or Superior :shrug: :rolleyes:

Quite true, but the laity and clergy not only have a right, but a duty, to bring to the ordinary or superior issues of importance for the Church, no? I do believe I have read that in the CCC. The issue of how many seminarians, deacons and priests are walking through our societies and standing out as Catholic clergy is important on many levels, IMHO.

One thing that entered into previous discussion was what constitutes a cleric now. For the longest time, within the first few months of seminary, a man was tonsured. At the moment he was tonsured, he was considered a cleric, and was to dress as one.
Paul VI suppressed the tonsure during his papacy, and since then men do not become clerics until they are ordained deacons, even though most seminaries today require seminarians to wear clerics.

Just to provide something for more discussion.

I can understand not being considered a cleric until ordination. What I can not understand is how a permanent deacon–when not working in his secular vocation–is not compelled to don clerical garb as he, under any interpretation of the CCC you care to point to, is a member of the ordained clergy. There are 19,000 of these men working in the LORD’s vineyard in the USA who, when not working, should be dressed as clergy in my humble opinion–just like priests and transitional deacons (whose faculties are the same as a permanent deacon). The fact the bishops have not mandated this without question is perplexing to me.

I would agree with you.

In most church documents that deal with how different members of the clergy should dress priests, deacons, and seminarians are all bundled into one category. Once the clerical state was pushed back, and the permanent diaconate came about, I think people got funny about it.

Yes - at the seminary
No - outside the seminary.

They are not part of the clergy. Why are they wearing clerical dress?
How many times does a lay person need to confuse a 19 year old seminarian with a priest before the prudence of this practice is addressed?
At diocesan meetings, religious congresses it is not prudent to confuse the laity.

Seminary uniforms- yes. Just like postulants wear special habits that distinguish them from the professed members of the community.

You say it better than I do. This is it here.

While I agree they shouldn’t publically wear clerical dress because they are not clerics, the laity before Vatican II would not have been confused by a seminarian dressed as a priest. The collar now identifies a man as a priest, and not a cleric, and this is the biggest problem. Permanent deacons wearing collars also confuse the laity, however, deacons should be wearing them when not working. The laity need a little education in this regard.

Bertblyleven hits the nail on the head about deacons (regardless of which kind) being clerics and needing to dress accordingly when not working at secular job. It should confuse the laity far less if clerics do their job of educating the faithful.

I nearly went mad in first year just from some of the conversations about the various items of clothes that some sems would talk endlessly about - the right way to wear this, the best tailor for that, the option to wear this, the ‘abuse’ in wearing it like that. Please.

The big problem about vocations in the first year or two is with ‘misfits’: guys who are either totally alien to themselves (read: autistic) or just dishonest about themselves (read: homosexual). Offering an ancient dress tends to attract these fellas (and there are quite a few of them) like moths to a flame, unfortunately.

So the issue is first one of quality control.

I get the impression fewer actively gay men are in seminary any more. It seems those days from the sixties are largely in the past.

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