|This is an 'abito piano'. It's just not the correct kind. It is properly Italian.|
|This is the correct kind.|
|This is the modern version as modeled by the CDF boss before he became The Boss and could model the less ostentatious pure white version.|
The Vatican is really going retro with this lastest letter from Cardinal Bertone at the behest of Pope Benedict. Cassocks make the priest, and cassocks with capes are mandatory when the Pope is around. I seriously don't know whether to laugh or cry. The following is from chiesa.espressoonline.it. It was first brought to my attention by NCR's article by Joshua McEwee.
VATICAN CITY, November 19, 2012 – The cassock obligatory for cardinals and bishops during office hours. Cassock or clerical dress for priests and monsignors. Specific habit for religious, always and in every season. And for ceremonies in the presence of the pope or during official meetings in the Roman curia: "abito piano," or cassock with cape, for priests, embroidered cassock for monsignors, and cassock with embroidered cape (called a "pellegrina") for bishops and cardinals.
This is the code of service reiterated recently in the Vatican in the wake of the guidelines issued by John Paul II in a September 8, 1982 letter to the cardinal vicar of Rome at the time, Ugo Poletti:
> "La cura dell'amata diocesi di Roma..."
In that letter, pope Karol Wojtyla addressed his vicar, "who most closely shares my cares and concerns in the governance of the diocese, [. . .] so that, in conjunction with the sacred congregations for the clergy, for religious and secular institutes, and for Catholic education, he may study opportune initiatives destined to foster the use of ecclesiastical and religious dress, issuing in this regard the necessary guidelines and taking care of their application."
The new memo, which bears the date of October 15, 2012 and was issued during the last synod of bishops, was signed by cardinal secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, who wrote it, as it reads, "at venerable behest," meaning at the direction of Benedict XVI.
It sounds as a reminder of the "duty of exemplarity that is incumbent above all upon those who render service to the successor of Peter."
But not only that. The letter is intended to be an "explicit encouragement" for all of those – "including for the episcopates," it emphasizes – who visit Rome.
There is no explicit reference in the text to the women religious who work in the Vatican, but by analogy with the male religious, the rule should apply to them as well.
The guideline is therefore very clear. Those who have the opportunity to frequent the Vatican offices will be able to see to what extent it is respected.
No more schlepping around Rome in Anglican style dog collars and black suits that have no piping to indicate rank. The clerical troops are being called to account for themselves as to their dress, but not yet to their off hours shenanigans. Covering up the clerics does not cover up the cover ups. Has the Vatican really sunk to this level of performance expectancy? All will be well if we just all get together and dress like we used to dress before we were exposed. I somehow think this might all a little too Freudian for my tastes.