Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Great Cassock Schism of 2014

In many ways, it is inevitable that this will happen.

The Daily Mail tells us of shock-horror-fear the danger of vicars not wearing the current official clerical outfit.

In fact, I don't think the Mail has the faintest idea of what vicars are allowed to wear. That, for example, there are wild fringes of the Evangelical wing of the Church of England where vicars don't even wear dog collars (although they do wear underpants, which is more than can be said, apparently, for some more "traditional" members of the Anglo-Catholics). That there is absolutely nothing to stop a vicar wearing jeans, chinos or even a kilt or miniskirt, even today, as long as they wear the appropriate liturgical robes for the service. And that's regardless of gender. And yet somehow that this is legal.

What will happen is this. The "liberals" will propose liturgical leisurewear as a way of making the Church more "relevant". The Anglo-Catholics will then demand that, if the liberals are allowed to do this, they should have a separate liturgical dress code, where birettas and maniples are required wear, and that they will only have bishops who wear proper, traditional suits. The Evangelicals will threaten to withhold their Parish Share (again) if any bishops who wear skinny jeans or "jeggings" are appointed in the dioceses. The radical Cycling Clergy will take to wearing Lycra and Hi Viz in every service.

Eventually, a Code of Practice will be agreed whereby, if any parish disagrees with the dress sense of a potential incumbent, the issue will be referred to Gok Wan. Unless it's a "conservative" evangelical parish, in which case the referee of sartorial appropriateness will be George Davis.

Guidelines will be issued on the appropriate amount of checky-ness in a check shirt, whether slingbacks are suitable for all priests or just the women and how short a clerical skirt can be. Dioceses will no longer be organised on geographical lines, but based on the football team replica strips worn by the more aggressively "working-class-lite" clergy. The Diocese of Manchester will be moved south by approximately 160 miles, to reflect its centre of gravity.

Eventually the long-threatened C of E schism will happen - not over sexuality, not over attitudes to Biblical interpretation, not over female bishops. It will be a vicar wandering out to lead the service next Christmas wearing a "Rudolph" jumper. It will cause 30% of the Church to go to Rome, 30% to join the Southern Cone, and 40% to go "Oh, brilliant. It's got a flashing LED for its nose."


  1. Isn't the cassock schism what you have o learn off by heart before you are confirmed?

  2. Oh, that's very good. And then, if just a few broke off over the width of stoles, that would be a petty cassock-schism.

  3. I think it's interesting that the DM article is no longer available online. See what you've done?

    1. I see exactly what I've done. Copied the link wrongly.

      Works well now. I say "works well"... it goes to the Mail, so some would see that as making things worse.

  4. I think that the concept of a relaxation in the wearing of vestments could go as far as the congregation being permitted to wear them along with the Clergy - than any outsider would have something to aspire too.

  5. Our church went from "high" to low in one interregnum, many, many years ago. Which is why we were baffled when we found all these loops of embroidery in a box in the vestry many years later. They turned out to be perfect for securing tea towels on heads in the Nativity play.
    Various members of the congregation enlightened our ignorance afterwards.

  6. In the German state church the pastor is required not only to wear a cassock in services, but the official Hat of Office when officiating outside.
    I don't know why either.


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