French archbishop bans seminarians and deacons from wearing cassocks

PARIS, 13 Jun. 22 / 03:14 pm (ACI).- Archbishop Guy de Kerimel of Toulouse, France, ordered seminarians and deacons in his jurisdiction to stop wearing cassocks. Those preparing for the priesthood “must allow pastoral charity to grow in them and make themselves accessible to everyone before worrying about showing a very marked identity”, said the archbishop.

The order was given through a letter signed on June 2, which was supposed to remain private, but was obtained by French media outlets.

In the letter, Bishop Kerimel reaffirmed the views expressed the day before at a dinner with seminarians from the archdiocese, in particular his opposition to wearing the cassock before ordination.

Kerimel said he “didn’t want the seminarians to show themselves in a very clerical way”, as, in his opinion, the image they project in this way does not “fit” their condition as non-ordained lay faithful.

Therefore, the archbishop no longer authorizes the use of the cassock in the seminary or on the street because “it is the law in force”.

“Therefore, I ask that this law be applied outside the seminary in the diocese of Toulouse, even for deacons,” he said, adding that from the moment of admission to the seminary, it is only possible to wear a “distinctive sign” such as “a necklace Roman or a simple cross”.

Archbishop Kerimel justified his position by stating that “the priority of a young man in formation for the ministerial priesthood is to grow and strengthen his relationship with Christ in humility and in truth, without pretending to get into character”.

The decision generated controversy. quoted by the magazine Valeurs Actuellesa priest of the diocese said that Kerimel’s arguments are “false”, reaffirming the fundamental importance of the cassock in the priest’s life, even for seminarians when they “aspire to the priesthood”, as “the cassock helps to get into the priest’s skin”.

The cassock, he said, “is a reminder of the priesthood, it reminds us that in everything that is done, a priest is a priest, it helps and pushes to live as a priest and helps people to turn to him without shame or fear.”

It is not Bishop Kerimel’s first controversial decision. In 2021, after the publication of the motu proprio traditions custodes, with which Pope Francis restricted the celebration of the liturgy prior to the reform of Vatican II, kerimel, then bishop of Grenoble-Vienne, ended the mission of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) in his diocese. The bishop replaced the FSSP priests with a single part-time diocesan priest.

The group of faithful responded to the bishop’s decision by organizing a boycott of a collection, which supposedly would have caused a significant loss in diocesan revenues for 2021. In April 2022, the same group returned to protest and for 40 hours occupied the steeple of the Church of Saint Andrew in Grenoble.

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