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Idol Chatter

Recently the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano officially quashed rumors that Pope Benedict XVI’s red shoes are not Prada (an urban legend Idol Chatter’s own Donna Freitas debunked back in April). “Such rumors are inconsistent with the simple and somber man who, on the day of his election to the papacy, showed to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square and to the whole world the sleeves of a modest black sweater,” noted the paper.
But, that was election day and now Benedict has embraced all the sartorial splendor of the Catholic Church that his predecessor John Paul II chose to forgo in favor of a studied austerity. And even though I knew of the papal tradition of wearing of red shoes when the Prada rumors began to swirl back in 2005, I felt the move to be inappropriate in this post-Vatican II world in which pontiffs should be more concerned with social justice than sartorial choices.


But three years on, I’m softening on my dislike of Benedict’s use of traditional liturgical vestments. He is a prince of the church, after all, so why shouldn’t he dress the part and in a manner consistent with his beliefs? As the Associated Press notes (via MSNBC.com), “L’Osservatore Romano said the pope’s interest in clothes has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with liturgy– what symbolism traditional garments can bring to the Christian liturgy.”
And even if, as some surmise, his return to pre-Vatican II vesture signals coming conservative liturgical reforms, it’s also exceptionally contemporary to have a pope dubbed “accessorizer of the year” by Esquire Magazine in this era of metrosexuality and bling-bling. In the end though, it must be said that I’m glad the Pope leaves the Prada to the Devil.
What do you think about Pope Benedict’s sartorial choices?

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