IN your December II issue, Fr. Peter Hebblethwaite, S.J., wrote an article concerning a telephone conversation that I had with him about a priest not wearing a Roman collar on television. Part of the headline on this article read: "With apologies to the unidentified caller."
Apologies accepted, Fr. Hebblethwaite! They were offered, I suspect, because I detected some choice hits of editing of our telephone conversation about priests' clothes. Having made a hilarious meal of what you consider a tremendous trifle, you cunningly deter further correspondence by saying it is so trivial. I am not deterred and hope there is room for these comments in full.
Your Jesuit colleague who appeared in • a polo-necked sweater and a dark grey suit in a Muggeridge '1'V programme was admittedly "sub-titled" on the screen, but I am unconvinced that he would be equally discerned as a priest in those clothes on other public platforms — unless he has a neonlettered halo on order from St. Ignatius.
Why disguise? Or if not meant to be disguise, why anonymity in dress? By all means let there be ordered modernisation, but let a priest be seen to be a priest! The priest-in-the-street should surely not be allowed to fade into the man-in-the-street.
The dying victim of a road accident may owe his final Absolution to the chance of a priest being spotted nearby and called to his aid. It's going to take a good pair of eyes to spot a tiny cross in the lapel of a dark-suited, collar and tie cleric.
Nuns' habits are at least being re-modelled on recognisable lines — but with some notable exceptions where they are practically indistinguishable from laywomen. I suspect we may yet see a Miss Vatican City on the Telly!
If the clothes in the Jesuit Curia are getting curiouser and curiouser, isn't it about time new and distinctive clerical attire is devised?
Jay-Watcher (Name and address supplied.)