Monday, July 10, 2017


Well Pope Francis follow their lead?

Church of England could ditch mitres over claims 'they look silly'

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, (R) and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welbyย 
The Archbishop of York John Sentamu (r) and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby chat on the steps of York Minster. CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Asenior Church of England figure is calling for bishops to ditch their mitres because they symbolise a "culture of deference".
Revd Ian Paul, a member of the Archbishops' Council, said the traditional hats were part of a "world of the past" and meant the bishops appeared elevated above the rest of the church.
"The mitre has become a sign that 'this person is a bishop'. It's not a very good one because it looks daft and it doesn't signify anything in the Church of England.

"It makes them distant and it makes them look silly," he told the Telegraph, adding that the hats were "Roman Catholicism by the back door".

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams (left) and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams (left) and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu in mitres. CREDIT: PA
Mitres were not generally worn by bishops in the Church until the late 19th century and there is no rule which compels them to be worn.
Mr Paul linked the mitres to a "culture of deference", one of the ideas criticised by Dame Moira Gibb in her report following an inquiry into the Church's handling of the sexual abuse committed by Peter Ball, the disgraced former bishop of Lewes.
In a blog post published earlier this week Mr Paul said: "It confirms for many the impression of a church irrelevant to modern questions, contained in its own bubble of self reference. "And in its hierarchical understanding of authority, it is a culture of which contemporary society is becoming less and less tolerant, possibly for good reason."
Mr Paul, who is an associate minister at St Nicholas' Church in Nottingham, made the comments ahead of a debate at the Church of England synod on Monday about changes to clergy clothing. Clergy are to be able to dress down under plans to allow ministers to ditch their vestments.
The Church has been considering the matter for several years and it has now reached the final stage of the legislation process.


ByzRC said...

What to say as I don't have a dog in this particular fight. I guess the Anglicans are free to do as they see fit. Stylistically, neither is the ideal. Pope Benedict XVI knew how to wear a mitre. He owned it! Anyhow, you would think, given the problems being experienced within their communion that mitres would be at the bottom of the list of things to worry about. But, I guess a progressive's work is never done reducing tradition and liturgy to its most primitive state.

I'm guessing the article was written from the perspective of the Anglicans. Long before the 18th century, the Catholic Church relied upon mitres for both bishops and I believe in Southern Italy, the were also awarded to archpriests. This sounds like a John Nolan type of confirmation.

Let us hope Pope Francis doesn't follow the Anglican lead should this come to pass. If he does, sack cloth vestments probably won't be far behind.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what its replacement will be? A bowler or flat cap? Fedora? Pork-pie or Top hat? Beanie or baseball cap? Who knows maybe they will take a survey or cast a vote!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Dear Father:

Some do look silly in miters, precisely because their miters are silly looking because of trivial and banal decorations. There used to be a wickedly funny website called "Bad Vestments" but it seems to have shut down. Your pictures give a couple of less extreme examples of what I have in mind.

I also think that some bishops might do better to think about alternate styles of miters. I am woefully uninformed in the current specifications about miters, if there be any; but I seem to recall that in our history, miters have both been much shorter, and notably taller, than the examples you supplied. I have particular bishops in mind, who are not flattered by their current miters, and I wonder if different dimensions would help.

If I were asked, I would suggest the Anglicans stop wearing miters; for reasons best explained by Pope Leo XIII. Of course, I think Catholic bishops should continue to wear them (and perhaps more often explain why).

Doodler said...

Why do some people spell the word MITER?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Well, I don't think miters should be done away with. But as just about anyone who has ever tried one on and looked in the mirror, it can be a shocking experience. And it doesn't matter whether it is a stubby medieval version or a two foot tall jeweled example.

If you want to see examples of every imaginable ecclesiastical headdress from every religious tradition, take a look at

Martin, I agree that Bad Vestments was a hoot.

Rood Screen said...

The Anglican diocesan leaders are not validly ordained, so they should certainly stop dressing like bishops.

Anonymous said...

Well, the "Anglicanism is invalid" chorus so popular on this website would be glad to know that Atlanta's Episcopal bishop has ditched his miter, except when presiding at functions at Atlanta's cathedral, which is more "high church" than he is. So when he does confirmations at other parishes, he just wears choir dress and an ugly, multicultural-looking stole. Clergy dress like going back to the good old "Low Church" days previously present among most of Southern Episcopal culture (before mainly the 1970s).

Rood Screen said...


I'm not sure what "Anglicism is invalid" means, but the Catholic Church has officially determined that Anglican ordinations are not sacramental.

John Nolan said...

It doesn't help that a lot of Anglican mitres look silly anyway (see the photograph!)

Pope Francis's mitres are in both proportion and decoration exemplary.

It is, in any case, a liturgical vestment and is donned or doffed as the rubrics require.

Anonymous said...

Well, Dialogue, that has not stopped the Catholic and Episcopal communities in Savannah from forming closer ties, going back to the days of Bishop Lessard and Anglo-Catholic Episcopal Bishop Paul Reeves (back in the 1970s). Bishop Lessard even allowed the use of the cathedral for the 1995 ordination of Henry Louttit Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia 1995-2010. Up here in the state's "other diocese", from time to time Episcopal bishops have been seated near the main altar of the Cathedral of Christ the King, such as for its 50th anniversary back in 1987. So I guess some Catholics think there is some value in meeting with them despite 1896...I suspect the ties continue even today between Bishop Hartmayer and Scott Benhase of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

On rare occasions our bishop has not worn one---one example being when he was confirming an inmate in one of our state prisons---doubtless an accommodation to guidelines for prison security, what you can and can't bring in through the gates. I think one time I even saw a priest wear one here, which I found odd (he wasn't an abbot either).

The Archbishop of Canterbury, whether from the "low end" of things (like the current one) or the more "high end" (like his precedessor), has worn a miter at least occasionally, but oddly, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, none of the bishop did---I guess perhaps due to the queen being crowned; I mean we do know who really heads the Church of England!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The highest level "Monsignor," a Prothonotary Apostolic (P.A., may wear the miter, zucchetto, and pectoral cross on specified occasions.

I think these include the anniversary of the Monsignor's appointment, his ordination anniversary, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and maybe Christmas or Easter.

I recall that Msgr. Daniel Bourke, PA, Savannah Diocese, wore his regalia at his 60th (?) ordination anniversary. His miter TOWERED above those of the bishps in attendance.

ByzRC said...

Interesting! Thank you Father Kavanaugh!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

A PA's zucchetto is black with tiny purple piping/stitching on the seams. I don't recall the color of the lining. (These things were once considered very, very important...)

ByzRC said...

Fr. Kavanaugh -

I don't doubt the importance of stitching/lining during that time (I've never been hung up on that sort of thing or, lace generally etc.). While, in 2017 terms, we should have more important things to worry about, this type of award might still have a place. Certainly, it's still used in the eastern churches with priests being mitred (priest's miters lack the cross of a bishop's mitre) and even the cappa magna could be updated (greatly shortened/less fussy materials) and made more real-world similar to the Mantiya worn by eastern bishops.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The award may. I was referring to the color and fabric used for lining a zucchetto.

ByzRC said...

Father K -

I know. My point, keep the tradition but, leave some of the fussy minutiae behind. Thanks again.