Clergy, Out and About


I was reading recently how the Pope of Rome has issued a, well, I suppose you can call it a gay-detector test, which would help avoid any future tragic situations. Actually, it’s a test that measures one’s sexual urges, but I found it odd how they first mentioned “homosexual tendencies” then “uncertain sexual identity”, only to finally say, “this document also makes reference to heterosexual urges.” In a sort of “while-we’re-at-it” attitude.

I was reminded (and I don’t exactly know why), of something I read the beginning of this year (luckily I was able to find it). It is regarding a decree issued out to all Greek Orthodox clergy by Archbishop Christodoulos of blessed memory. I found it on a Serbian site and was unable to find anything about it in English, but, for the most part it states:

On the first days of the new year the Greek Orthodox Church has issued a special code of clergy behavior. The document is three pages long and signed by the head of the Greek Church, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Christodoulos.

As is stated, “moral purity, cleanliness and orderliness in dress are a necessity for all clergy.” The new rules dictate that clergy be modest in their dress.  Clergy are not permitted to be sloppily dressed nor to wear wrinkled clothes.

Besides this, clergy must not wear clothes with an open collar, white socks or bright colored pants.  A special paragraph is dedicated to the rule which obliges clergy not to appear before laity unclad, without their cassock, even when they are in their own yard or balcony.

Henceforth Greek clergy are strictly forbidden to smoke in public. Beside the fact that smoking is hazardous to one’s health, “it is impermissible for the all pious laity to approach the priest in order to kiss his hand and smell tobacco.” Additionally, “clergy are not to cross their legs – perhaps this is relaxing but it is unbecoming for a priest.”

Besides the dress code the rule book states that clergy act with humility, but honorably, “that even when they might be in the right – they not chastise anyone,” that they be very careful behind the wheel.  “During conversation a priest should not raise his voice, to insult or exhibit any anger.”


6 thoughts on “Clergy, Out and About

  1. Esteban,
    Thank you for the article “Genuine Nobility: Monasticism and Sociability”. I was able to print it up and take with me to read while waiting today. Wonderful reminders and guidelines. I plan on sharing the guidelines with my kids….

  2. You’re welcome, dear Father! My spiritual father gave me this article to read soon after it was published, and I think it is one of the more helpful and important things about the spiritual life that I have ever read. I go over it before every confession, but to my shame, it only makes me aware of how little I have let it influence me! Anyway, I’m only too glad to share it.

    And as for the proverbs, glad to “give back” a little bit! I really can’t thank you enough for posting your wonderful homilies.

  3. Thanks for the link and the comment Esteban.

    I also meant to thank you for your earlier comment and addition to my Serbian saying, with the El hombre propone y Dios dispone…etc.

  4. I remember seeing this item earlier this year, as well.

    The above simply outlines what should be the normal Christian behavior not only of clergy and monastics, but really of all Orthodox Christians, regardless of their estate. This is both a useful and a sobering document — useful, because we can all use to be reminded of such things; sobering because, well, how does the old wag go? If the bishop is a saint, the priest will be good and the people will be lukewarm. If the bishop is good, the priest will be lukewarm and the people will be bad. If the bishop is lukewarm, the priest will be bad and the people will be lost. If the bishop is bad, the priest will be lost, and there will be no people.

    Some years ago, Hieromonk (now Bishop) Klemes of the Greek “Synod in Resistance” gave a wonderfully edifying talk entitled “Genuine Nobility: Monasticism and Sociability” in which, by explaining from the Holy Fathers how the monastic way of life should seek to live out truly Christian behavior even in small, seemingly unimportant things, he powerfully pointed to the calling of all Christians to do the same. The talk is available here, and deserves wide reading.

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