I commented online recently that perhaps bishops could forego some elements of clerical or liturgical dress: put pectoral crosses under their shirt, wear a black yarmulke, use a crozier only for diocesan or cathedral events, and only then a simple wooden one with no adornments.
A comment came back that bishops don’t dress for themselves, but as part of their office in the Church. Which, I guess, is all of us. Except when it’s not.
I think if the bishops and clergy dressed not for themselves, they would be satisfied to use the vestments of their predecessor. They might also accept the input of their clergy and laity on the style and appropriateness of what new items they would need. Maybe victims of legal stonewalling and secrecy would approve, in the name of the Church, certain public gestures of penance.
I’ve noticed a bishop promoting forty days of penance commencing today and running to the end of September. No doubt the prayers of lay people will assist the clergy, even the criminals among them, in a spiritual way. If I were in a bishop’s shoes, I might add the “magic” word, “please,” to anything I asked of a group deeply offended by my actions or inactions. Of course, if a lay person made such a suggestion, there would be some who would have to check with their closest clergyperson to see if it was okay.
To be clear, I have no intention of giving anybody a list of what they “should” do. I have no idea what bishops should do. Resign. Erase their names from all schools and universities. Wear sackcloth chasubles. I do hope Church leaders of all stripes recognize the crisis they have perpetrated and even if some are innocent, all are stained in the eyes of those outside of “leadership.”