The Catholic priest, as a person committed and consecrated to God, has to be easily identifiable by common people and faithful, among other things, through his way of dressing.
The Catholic Church has understood it in this way, as it is said in her Canon 284 of the Code of Canon Law of 1983: “Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops and according to legitimate local customs”.
Through this duty of wearing suitable ecclesiastical garb, the Church expect clerics to be recognized by all the people, as an external sign of their committments and dedication to God and souls, and so to bear witness to society, in order to protect the faithful rights to recognized their shepherds and the duty of them to put their ministry at service of christians.
Currently, the Spanish Episcopal Conference only allows three types of ecclesiastical garb: those peculiar to Religious Institutes approved by the Holy See, and the cassock or the clergyman’s suit for the priests.
Why most of Spanish priests do not wear cassock nor clergyman’s suit, failing to comply with the aforementioned compulsory canon, that the Holy See has approved and validated? Why do not they obey what is ordered? Why do they scandalize the secular faithful? Why do not Bishops compel them to fulfill it in an ordinary way? Is not obeying God and its earthly representative, the Catholic Church, something basic in Christian life? Why are some people so interested in forbiding others to wear cassock or clergyman’s suit?
We, as many secular faithful, ask these questions ourselves, without finding a satisfactory answer. We try to pray for them, and we thank them their dedication to so many aspects of Christian life, but we would fell more restored and grateful if they obeyed their obligation to show openly their priestly state, in order to help everybody, at any time.
Obedience is almost as important as faith to Christian faithful. Let us see some examples: “God needs no toils, but obedience” (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. About St. Matthew, 56).
“I believe that, as the devil knows well there is no path which conducts us sooner to the highest perfection than that of obedience, it is for this reason he tries to raise so many disgusts and difficulties under the appearance of good” (St. Teresa, The Book Of The Foundations, 5, 10).
“Many times I seemed unable to perform my other duties by reason of my natural imbecility, when our Lord said to me: Daughter, obedience gives strength” (St. Teresa, The Book Of The Foundations, Prologue, 2).