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Judging from the e-mails I receive on this topic, this is a subject that never seems to grow old.
I disagree with my brother, Deacon Ditewig, in that Canon Law allows the “bishop of the diocese” to determine the appropriate clerical attire for the deacon. Can. 284 states, “Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops and according to legitimate local customs.” How can the subrogation of Canon Law by a bishop’s particular law be construed as “legitimate local customs?” Canon 284 is clear in its direction of what clerics should do regarding clerical attire. Canon 288 allows permanent deacons the OPTION to not be bound by Canon 284; particular law by a bishop should not be superior to Canon Law. The only thing that Canon 288 allows the bishop to do is make Canon 284, i.e. the wear of clerical attire, mandatory for permanent deacons making, not forbidden. But bishops are not open to permanent deacons arguing the point that their particular law is limited to Canon Law. I also respectfully take issue with Deacon Ditewig that just because his not wearing a collar didn’t “make one iota of difference” implies that it is axiomatic for us all. When I was a chaplain in a secular environment, the local airport, initial recognition and effective ministry mandated clerical attire. Everyone in a parish knows who the deacon is without a collar. All of Deacon Ditewig’s audiences knew before his speeches that he was a deacon. In a prison, a hospital, or an airport, no one knows a cleric from anyone else unless he is in clerical attire. Clerical attire is a sacramental that makes the presence of Holy Mother Church evident. In an increasingly secular world, why would any cleric wish to hide the light of Christ under a bushel basket?