By ANN KIMMEL
ONKS and friars in Britain expressed mixed views this week over a Vatican Council resolution that men religious should follow the pattern set by nuns in modernising their dress.
The Council Fathers voted 2.110 to 20 last Friday urging both men and women religious "to modify their habits in keeping with the times."
They also voted equally heavily in favour of: I. GIVING more attention to individual responsibility in exercising obedience.
2. BREAKING down class distinctions in communities of men by associating lay brothers more directly with the others; in women by getting away from a division between Sisters doing different types of work.
3. MAINTAINING enclosure for contemplatives, but declaring it should be adapted to circumstances.
These decisions ended discussion on the schema on "a renewal of religious life". The new decree is expected to be promulgated at the end of the month.
When asked for their views this week by the CATHOLIC HERALD, most British communities said they would like more time to think about the decisions on obedience, class distinctions and enclosure before making any comments.
However, British monks and friars spoke freely about the statement on men's habits: • A Dominican priest said: "Our habit is terribly impractical, so large and floppy. It's hopeless in the wind.
"It's not at all the kind of thing St. Dominic wore—he walked around in the normal dress of his times. This is an 18th century caremonial garb.
"Some of my brethren would like to wear black suits. But I personally feel we need some kind of uniform, a habit that's not so bulky. The controversy has been going on for years."
• Very Rev. F. Charles Murphy. 0.F.M., provincial of the Franciscan Friary at Forest Gate, East London, didn't think there was any need for Franciscans to change. "We have as simple a habit as you could get, a cord and cowl. The only alternative would be lay dress, and we wouldn't want to surrender the habit completely."
• A Capuchin friar said his community was divided over the clueslion of keeping beards, the distinguishing mark of the Capuchin.
But he felt there was no need to change the brown hooded robe and sandals, "though I have heard dungarees mentioned," he said laughing. "They would be more our style than frockcoats and top hats."
As for dressing like secular
priests, "The whole point of the habit is to be different. We don't want to hide our light under a bushel".
• A Discalces1 Carmelite was amused by the question. "We all laughed last Sunday when we heard the news, imagining ourselves wearing Beatie outfits like the cartoon in the Sunday Express, I just hope we won't have too short a skirt."
Speaking seriously, he added: "It's not really a problem for us in Britain. There's no need for change inside the monastery. And outside we wear plain black suits. But I've heard those on the Continent envy .us, because they have to wear habits all the time".
TOO EARLY • A Passionist considered that there would he little cell for a change in habit as they wear ordinary clerical suits when outside their monastery, anyway.
"It is still rather early for anything to have been properly considered," he said.
All of the nuns contacted said they had either already modified their habits or were planning to do so soon,
A liacre site known as St. Vincent's Hall, Clifton Park, has been chosen by the diocesan trustees for the new cathedral. Application for planning permission has been made.