Letter: What the best-dressed priests are wearing

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THE REMARKS of your fashion correspondent concerning outfits for women clergy will provoke a good deal of mirth among their male colleagues, and deserve some correction ('Pricey outfit but no hint of frou-frou', 10 April).

For the record, a chasuble is not essential for a priest's personal wardrobe. Most parish churches have their own, worn by any of the clergy on the staff. In any case, one chasuble is not enough; to be properly equipped, a priest needs at least four, in each of the liturgical colours. Furthermore, half the clergy of the Church of England wouldn't be seen dead in a chasuble: it is regarded by some as a 'High Church vestment'.

The idea of the alb as an undergarment is fetching, but ludicrous. It is worn over the cassock and under the chasuble, and nobody except some traditionalist backwoodsmen has worn the maniple for at least 25 years.

This ignorance about clerical vesture is symptomatic of the continuing ignorance about the real functions of a priest, and the real issues involved in the ordination of women, not only among fashion correspondents, but among many ordinary congregants.

And, what's more, any priest, male or female, who is considering spending ' pounds 450-pounds 2,000' on a chasuble for their personal use needs to be asking some serious questions about their attitude to money.

The Revd K W Clinch

Battle, East Sussex

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