Vestments used for fancy dress

22 September 2017

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An ordinand organised a fancy-dress party for 15 invited guests. They included two “bishops”, a “nun”, a “pope”, “President Trump”, a “priest”, and a “fairy”. It was great fun, and the “begging bowl” raised more than £300 for starving chil­dren. But was it acceptable to use real mass vestments for this?


As we embrace the canonical changes that will allow chinos and cords within the definition of “real mass vestments”, we are perhaps encouraged to be less particular about these matters. Nevertheless, it seems difficult to see it as ap­­propri­ate to transpose vestments from their sacred setting to the fancy-dress party.

We should resist taking ourselves too seriously, and acknowledge that the real reason for “dressing up” for mass is because it is fun. Equally, it can be healthy to parody those rituals that can drift towards the idolatrous. To take the actual things of the mass for that parody seems disingenuous; but, at the end of the day, if the most scandalous occur­rence at the ordinand’s party was a chasuble out of place, it may have been a quiet night in the college in question.

Gwilym Stone, Southampton


In at least one case, it seems per­fectly appropriate. In his first six months in office, Trump announced a bold and yet totally ludicrous vision, upset almost everyone around him, and achieved almost no actual change at all. Sounds a lot like my first incumbency. He’s clearly ready for ordination.

(The Revd) Chris Webb (Deputy Warden of Launde Abbey and Spirituality Adviser in Leicester diocese)

East Norton, Leicestershire


Your questions


According to Thomas Jefferson’s “Parliamentary Pocket Book”, “The three estates are. 1. The King. 2. the Lords. 3. the Commons. And the second estate includes the lords Spiritual as well as temporal, not as Spiritual persons, but by reason of the Temporal baronies annexed to their bishopricks.”

Is he correct, and, if so, does this not fully justify the Bishops’ inter­vening in temporal affairs of the nation?

A. B.


I understand that the Orthodox Churches recognise the validity of Anglican orders, but how is this affected by the ordination of women?


Am I correct in thinking that a hymn tune or a printed tune in a hymn book that is more than 50 years old is free from copyright? What exactly does the law say?

G. S.


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