Proper attire for priests

Is there a “rule” as to what priests are permitted to wear outside of mass? I know some priests that always seem to wear their collar. I see other priests wear regular clothes when not at mass or a church event.
If a priest posted selfies online wearing a tank top, would that be something that the Church prohibits, or would it fall under the category of “bad judgement”, or is it a non-issue?


Priests in our City do both as you note above. Some always wear their collar, others are in regular clothes when not at Mass.

I can’t imagine a priest posting a selfie online in a tank top so I think it’s a non-issue.


I suppose it would depend on the context

For example, I assume priests are permitted to go to the beach or the pool, and that they wear normal men’s swimming attire to do so. A picture of the priest at the pool in swim trunks would hardly be shocking.

My first thought is, if you are not a priest or seminarian, why are you even concerned about this?

That’s what I’d like to know about it.

These are sort of question that makes positively no sense to me, as a priest. Such a question is simply inane.

When I would go for a hike in the mountains or for a holiday at the ocean or any other physical exercise, do you think I would ever wear a cassock or a Roman collar? Or that when I would go to swim, I wore some sort of swimming costume from the Victorian era?

Does the lady of the house wear a formal evening gown to sweep her front porch? Or does she wear attire appropriate to the task she is about?

Here is a photo of His Eminence, the Cardinal Archbishop of Newark, in the midst of his gym workout

Not very charitable responses from you or some other members of this thread.
Nowhere was I suggesting a priest wear a cassock when he went swimming, etc. I was referring to out in the community, ex. going to a doctor’s appointment, running errands. I think it would be respectful to his office to do so.

The selfie example in my OP was not hypothetical. When I was growing up, the priests in my parish were never without their collars in the general public, even when they took us on field trips. I was simply asking if there was a “rule” regarding this, as it seems dress codes for nuns and laity have been relaxed compared to what they used to be, and I wasn’t sure if it was the same for priests.

I’m not sure why I’d have to be a priest or a seminarian to ask this question.

Because otherwise it’s none of your business. Let’s say there was indeed a “rule” such as the one you theoretically described. Unless you were a priest or seminarian, or someone with authority over priests and seminarians, it would not concern you. It would not be up to you to enforce such a rule.

But there is no such rule, so the point is moot. And it is unreasonable to expect “charity” when asking such inane and inappropriate questions.


How old are you? I am a priest old enough that I am retired and when I was growing up, priests did not wear their collars so as to “never [be] without the collars in the general public.”

One of a number of photos of Karol Wojtyła from his hiking trips with students is attached … and this is from the 1950s. So, again, I ask to what era are you making this unfavorable comparison?

For my part, as I’ve indicated, my practices have not changed in more than 50 years and the practices that are mine were as true for the priests who were the senior priests of my diocese when I was young…which was the precedent for my own practice in this regard.

Then as now, I would not wear clerical attire to do gardening or even work in the parish church if I am cleaning or otherwise organising the sacristy or rummaging around the sacristy/storage.

I typically would not years ago, or now, wear clerical attire to go to the doctor or the hospital as patient/for treatment…or to run errands, any more than my father would have put on his suit and tie to go to the grocery, the florist, or the auto mechanic.

This question may not make any sense to you but there must be some reason why the question was posted by someone.

There may be a reason, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good reason.

For the record, Don Ruggero is a priest, and should be shown proper respect by CAF members. **No one **that answered was saying anything that should have had the OP answering “wow.” Often children and uber-rule watchers come on asking questions to perform a gotcha to their parish priest.

As everyone has been saying, it is no one’s business.

As a big fan of delicious irony, I have to say that I love the fact that, in a thread that is purportedly about a “concern” for “respect for the office of priesthood”, someone would address an actual priest with this attitude. As the OP so eloquently put it, “wow”.

Our pastor loves to garden, so a collar is out! It depends on whar activity they are engaged in. Leave The fashion police badge at home!

FWIW: my dear friend who is a priest says he NEVER ever wears his collar on a plane. The rude and obnoxious remarks from fellow passengers make his travel unbearable. It’s abuse, and they justify if by recalling the abuse of some priests of the past. :frowning:

So what if “they never didn’t wear their collar”? That only means you never saw them in leisure activity. Years ago as a child, one of our Jesuit priests played basketball regularly with the older altar servers in the school yard. He always wore shorts and a tank top. As did the high schoolers. I never once thought it was inappropriate. :confused:

To say a priest is being uncharitable when the point of the original post was to imply something uncharitable to the priest in a tank top is, well, uncharitable. :doh2:

Some people just don’t realize how they sound. And it sounded awful.

Our Parish Priests love to ride their bikes to the nearby park in the summer. They’re very comfortable in Bermuda shorts & a tee shirt.

I have heard of many priests who specifically do not wear their collar in public on their off/leisure time for this exact reason. There was a priest here in town who was actually spat on by someone in a hospital because of the abuse scandal. Society would never allow that to happen to anyone else but for some reason it is acceptable if directed toward Catholic priests.

Thank you for this response Father. I apologise for the disrespect shown to you on this thread. I always learn something when I read your post. Thank you for your vocation and for answering the call.


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