Bishops can choose whether they want to wear a mitre or not, the Church of England’s general assembly has been told.
The pointed hats, which returned to fashion in the 19th century when ‘Catholic Anglicanism’ became popular, represent part of the dispute between high church traditionalists and supporters of a more casual look.
An Essex vicar, Rev Canon David Banting, sought guidance on the issue and was told in a written answer by the Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, that it was “entirely a matter of personal discretion”, The Guardian reported.
Vicars, by contrast, are legally required to wear formal robes such as surplices and cassocks when conducting public services.
The law, which is being reviewed, is to be discussed by the House of Bishops next month.
Bishop Broadbent later said some clergy liked to dress up in fancy clothes.
“The church attracts folks for whom the tat is something that they revel in, and it becomes very important for them,” he said.
“That may go with a penchant towards being more flamboyant in their behaviour in general, shall we say.”
He said bishops’ mitres, robes and croziers, bishops’ staffs, could help them to look “imposing” in cathedrals, but were not for everyone.
Dressed in a denim jacket and a purple bishop’s shirt, Bishop Broadbent said a mitre was not a “comfortable look for most people, though there are some that carry it off beautifully”.
“I’m not one of them,” he said.
He added: “I tend to travel by public transport and bicycles - it’s quite difficult to arrive at a venue carrying a flipping great crozier.”
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