Are these girls in choir dress, red cassock and surplice, bishops or cardinals or want to be's?
I came across a post by Father Martin Fox from his Bonfires of the Vanities which he posted in 2006. You can read it by pressing this sentence and the comments below it, but I copy the main body of the article below:
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Girls in cassocks -- who cares?
Visiting another blog (Catholic Sensibility) recently, I commented on a thread describing some fine musical accomplishments of a particular parish, including efforts by children's choirs. It featured a photo of one such choir -- all girls, as far as I could tell -- and all dressed in red cassock and surplice. (Given that I saw a photo, it's just barely possible that they really weren't cassocks, but something designed very much like. In any case, the effect was the same.)
I added a comment, praising the "impressive" musical efforts, but saying -- as a "relatively small matter" -- the choice of attire was "unfortunate."
Later, I expanded on that, saying that I think dressing girls in male, and in fact, clerical, attire, is ill-advised.
Well, that provoked several interesting comments:
* The issue of confusing about cassocks is "obsolescent" in "most parts of the country" (I assume the U.S. was meant), as it is "much more common for lay people to wear cassock/surplice as altar servers and choristers than it is for clergy to wear them. The formal evolution of the vesture aside, they have not signified clergy for a long time."
* This is an outgrowth of academic gowns, and that they no longer have any sex-specific meaning.
* The apparent cassock-and-surplice was "choir clothing," not male clothing.
* I was "making it harder" for the music director. (Somehow I doubt that.)
* "Statements like this seem to come from a very narrow mind set." This latter struck me as terribly funny.
Because the focus of that thread wasn't liturgical attire, pursuing it further there strikes me as inappropriate; in any case, that thread seems to have fallen by the wayside.
So I raise the question here.
I'd especially invite comments on the substantive, first point bulleted above: is it true that enough laity and females wear cassocks that it is no longer meaningfully male, clerical attire? Of course, what's "enough"?
What can you report from your parish? (And, if I may, is it a Catholic parish, Episcopal, or other Protestant? Because in my own quick, certainly unrepresentative google-survey, I found hits for girls in cassocks almost entirely at Episcopal sites.)
I realize the temptation to focus on the policy of having girls as altar servers. I'm not saying that subject is not a legitimate one to discuss; but can we set that aside? Because I know what'll happen: that'll hijack the thread.