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Author Topic: Clergy and cassocks  (Read 2506 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 11, 2011, 11:38:52 AM »

I just came to wonder about something. I just read a ROCOR article about clergymen wearing a cassock. Personally I admire the priests who wear a cassock all the time but I can't stop wondering. What if a priest was to go somewhere where a cassock is impractical, for example if a priest goes on vacation with his family (I suppose this happens) and they are to go on a hike in the mountains or something like that. Also, and this may be relevant for many convert clergy, if you are invited to a family dinner, would it be wrong to dress in something else?

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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2011, 12:15:43 PM »

I just came to wonder about something. I just read a ROCOR article about clergymen wearing a cassock. Personally I admire the priests who wear a cassock all the time but I can't stop wondering. What if a priest was to go somewhere where a cassock is impractical, for example if a priest goes on vacation with his family (I suppose this happens) and they are to go on a hike in the mountains or something like that. Also, and this may be relevant for many convert clergy, if you are invited to a family dinner, would it be wrong to dress in something else?

Wearing your cassock at all times means wearing your cassock at all times in public. In the comfort of your own home you can wear whatever you like. I think the same would apply if you're going to your non-Orthodox mother's house for dinner. As for wearing a cassock while undertaking impractical tasks, I don't think one is expected to be unreasonable here. Then again, monks climb mountains, do DIY, work in the fields, etc. in cassocks without it being a big problem.
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2011, 07:50:32 PM »

I know one priest who doesn't wear his cassock to the park because parents won't let their children play with his children if he shows up like that. He will wear it to other public places --for example, restaurants -- however. That decision usually depends on whether or not he is meeting someone there as a priest or if he has just come from a liturgical setting.
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 08:17:33 PM »


Also, many of our priests hold secular jobs.  They can't be expected to wear their cassock to the office board meeting.

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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2011, 08:40:46 PM »

Yes, I know of a priest who is a department manager at JC Penney and it would not go over very well if he showed up to work in a cassock!
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2011, 09:45:40 PM »

Then there are all the Antiochian priests who are forbidden to wear their cassocks off church property.
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2011, 12:36:59 AM »

Why is it that priests feel they can't wear a cassock to a secular job, but Muslim women feel entitled to wear burqas?
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2011, 12:40:55 AM »

Why is it that priests feel they can't wear a cassock to a secular job, but Muslim women feel entitled to wear burqas?
You see a lot of burquas?

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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2011, 12:46:39 AM »

Then there are all the Antiochian priests who are forbidden to wear their cassocks off church property.

Look at the positive side, at least the Antiochian monastics are allowed to dress in their religious attire outside specifically religious contexts. I know, because Antiochian Village is about 10 miles from here, and I've seen Mother Alexandra walking into Walmart before  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2011, 01:12:05 AM »

Why is it that priests feel they can't wear a cassock to a secular job, but Muslim women feel entitled to wear burqas?
You see a lot of burquas?



Whoops...I meant hijab
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2011, 02:31:34 AM »

Look at the positive side, at least the Antiochian monastics are allowed to dress in their religious attire outside specifically religious contexts.

All one of them?
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2011, 02:51:18 AM »

Look at the positive side, at least the Antiochian monastics are allowed to dress in their religious attire outside specifically religious contexts.

All one of them?

I've read that there are also a couple Antiochian nuns in Tennessee...  which would bring the count to three I think.  Cool Actually there are more Antiochians who became monastics than that, they've just been forced to go to monasteries in other jurisdictions (I met one in a GOA monastery in OH, though I have no idea if he's still there). Don't be a playa hata.
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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2011, 05:17:05 AM »

coptic priests never wear anything other than their cassocks.
for hanging around in the house / sleeping, they wear jallabiya. this is a north african / arabic loose robe that closely resembles a cassock but is usually of cheaper material. it can have short sleeves (elbow length).
egyptians (muslim and Christian) generally wear jallabiya for housework anyway, but would never go out of the house in it. it has the same social status as the pyjama that many countries copied from pakistan/india.
everyone should have one, they are very practical!

in the winter in cold countries, priests wear multiple layers of clothing under the cassock.
i have been to the supermarket with my priest and his wife. he wore a cassock as he always does and the locals have got used to it. those who still stare usually smile after coz we smile at them  Smiley
sometimes it starts interesting conversations.
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« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2011, 05:28:35 AM »

Doesn't Metropolitan Phillip not allow priests to wear cassocks outside of Church but must instead wear the RC clerical collar?
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« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2011, 06:04:18 AM »

coptic priests never wear anything other than their cassocks.
for hanging around in the house / sleeping, they wear jallabiya. this is a north african / arabic loose robe that closely resembles a cassock but is usually of cheaper material. it can have short sleeves (elbow length).
egyptians (muslim and Christian) generally wear jallabiya for housework anyway, but would never go out of the house in it. it has the same social status as the pyjama that many countries copied from pakistan/india.
everyone should have one, they are very practical!

in the winter in cold countries, priests wear multiple layers of clothing under the cassock.
i have been to the supermarket with my priest and his wife. he wore a cassock as he always does and the locals have got used to it. those who still stare usually smile after coz we smile at them  Smiley
sometimes it starts interesting conversations.
 Wink

Where can one buy a jallabiya?
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« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2011, 07:05:06 AM »

Why is it that priests feel they can't wear a cassock to a secular job, but Muslim women feel entitled to wear burqas?
You see a lot of burquas?



Whoops...I meant hijab

Wrong again. Niqab.
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« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2011, 07:10:02 AM »

Hijab


Niqab


Burka
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« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2011, 07:50:05 AM »

Doesn't Metropolitan Phillip not allow priests to wear cassocks outside of Church but must instead wear the RC clerical collar?
While Metropolitan Philip's directive probably made sense at one time, such is no longer the case. RC priests at least around here are more likely to be seen in public wearing a plain black shirt with only a small lapel cross to indicate their role. Given the overabundance of negative (and too often unfair) publicity towards RC priests, I don't know why it is considered desirable to look like one. This present generation does not seem to mind non-traditional clothing in public. I would like to see the Metropolitan (or more likely his eventual successor) update the policy.
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« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2011, 09:27:46 AM »

Why is it that priests feel they can't wear a cassock to a secular job, but Muslim women feel entitled to wear burqas?
You see a lot of burquas?



My wife was called for Jury duty about five months ago. In the Jury waiting room there was a woman wearing a full Burka as pictured above.
No one would sit next to her, so my wife did... How would you like to have a woman in full burka on your own Jury? It's kinda funny. Like a Monty Python routine.  Shocked
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« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2011, 09:42:31 AM »

I think clergy should have distinctive clothes. But the typical cassock was just a clerical version of what was common daily clothes of the time. At the same time, they have become closely related to the image of the Orthodox priest.

My solution, if I had authority over this, would be to call some Orthodox people who work with design to create a distinctive outfit for priests that could be worn anywhere - maybe even in a secular job - and yet indentify them as priests. It would have to keep the sobriety and modesty necessary - nothing too fashionable like "cool" overcoats - and also not too similar to non-Orthodox clergy. It could have a "cassock-like" overcoat for cold day or social occasions. It would have to be humble, not call too much attention but also be "unique" enough that soon people would identify it as the "Orthodox priest uniform".



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« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2011, 09:45:03 AM »

Doesn't Metropolitan Phillip not allow priests to wear cassocks outside of Church but must instead wear the RC clerical collar?
While Metropolitan Philip's directive probably made sense at one time, such is no longer the case. RC priests at least around here are more likely to be seen in public wearing a plain black shirt with only a small lapel cross to indicate their role. Given the overabundance of negative (and too often unfair) publicity towards RC priests, I don't know why it is considered desirable to look like one. This present generation does not seem to mind non-traditional clothing in public. I would like to see the Metropolitan (or more likely his eventual successor) update the policy.

If anything, the more non-mainstream, the better, where today's hipster youth is concerned. They like beards, too.
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« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2011, 09:46:11 AM »

Niqab

Needs more context -- could just be a ninja.
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« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2011, 09:53:16 AM »

Doesn't Metropolitan Phillip not allow priests to wear cassocks outside of Church but must instead wear the RC clerical collar?
While Metropolitan Philip's directive probably made sense at one time, such is no longer the case. RC priests at least around here are more likely to be seen in public wearing a plain black shirt with only a small lapel cross to indicate their role. Given the overabundance of negative (and too often unfair) publicity towards RC priests, I don't know why it is considered desirable to look like one. This present generation does not seem to mind non-traditional clothing in public. I would like to see the Metropolitan (or more likely his eventual successor) update the policy.

If anything, the more non-mainstream, the better, where today's hipster youth is concerned. They like beards, too.

I understand that. I know that many teenagers who feel at ease having non-mainstream looks at would see the need to "fit in" as a sign of cowardice or outrigth stupidity. I can empathize with that.

But, also, priests cannot be hostages to adolescent point of views. Priests have a very specific role in the Church. They must express humility, being set apart (all Christians are, but priests must show) and service, but all this in relation to the world: being all things to all men, as St. Paul said, and not being just the "teen thing".

Monks, on the other hand, can carry the burden of a more radical look that teenagers would appreciate. Monks live a radical life of being dead to the world and take that further than just looks. They are the real example for the more passionate teenagers who want something deeper and far more substantial.
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« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2011, 10:04:02 AM »

Doesn't Metropolitan Phillip not allow priests to wear cassocks outside of Church but must instead wear the RC clerical collar?
While Metropolitan Philip's directive probably made sense at one time, such is no longer the case. RC priests at least around here are more likely to be seen in public wearing a plain black shirt with only a small lapel cross to indicate their role. Given the overabundance of negative (and too often unfair) publicity towards RC priests, I don't know why it is considered desirable to look like one. This present generation does not seem to mind non-traditional clothing in public. I would like to see the Metropolitan (or more likely his eventual successor) update the policy.

If anything, the more non-mainstream, the better, where today's hipster youth is concerned. They like beards, too.

I understand that. I know that many teenagers who feel at ease having non-mainstream looks at would see the need to "fit in" as a sign of cowardice or outrigth stupidity. I can empathize with that.

But, also, priests cannot be hostages to adolescent point of views. Priests have a very specific role in the Church. They must express humility, being set apart (all Christians are, but priests must show) and service, but all this in relation to the world: being all things to all men, as St. Paul said, and not being just the "teen thing".

Monks, on the other hand, can carry the burden of a more radical look that teenagers would appreciate. Monks live a radical life of being dead to the world and take that further than just looks. They are the real example for the more passionate teenagers who want something deeper and far more substantial.
I agree wholeheartedly with the portion of your message that I've bolded. It's interesting, though. Around here, it seems to be the now seniors who were teens during the 60s who are most open to "alternative expressions". Whatever the reason for all that, it still seems right to me that our clergy, led and directed by the bishops, dress in a way that is distinctive to their calling, yet still within the bounds of cultural norms. It could very well be a good thing that the boundaries of those norms have been extended in recent decades.
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« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2011, 11:05:47 AM »

^  I would only say that there is a huge difference in the way that people treat you as a priest when you wear a collar vs. a cassock.  People are much more willing to say something to you with a collar on.  The cassock is strange & unknown to most people.  I will however temper that with my experiences with Roman Catholics.  Whenever i wear a cassock it's almost as if they've found a long-lost relic or something. I've had RC folks spend a half hour trying to figure out which "order" i'm from.  lol.  When they find out i'm orthodox they just say "well i'm glad you guys have kept that tradition". 

Interesting stuff either way. 
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« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2011, 12:00:46 PM »

jamesrottnek, u should be able to get a jallabiya from big cities that have north african shops. look for shops with arabic writing and ask someone there if you can get a jallabiya in the area. or ask in a coptic church!
mine are gifts from friends who got them in egypt.

father serb1389, thanks for sharing your experience.
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« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2011, 02:03:41 PM »

^  I would only say that there is a huge difference in the way that people treat you as a priest when you wear a collar vs. a cassock.  People are much more willing to say something to you with a collar on.  The cassock is strange & unknown to most people. 

Several priests that I know report the exact opposite. The cassock appears to be a conversation-starter. People approach just because it's not the usual collar.
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« Reply #27 on: September 12, 2011, 02:17:11 PM »

^  I would only say that there is a huge difference in the way that people treat you as a priest when you wear a collar vs. a cassock.  People are much more willing to say something to you with a collar on.  The cassock is strange & unknown to most people. 

Several priests that I know report the exact opposite. The cassock appears to be a conversation-starter. People approach just because it's not the usual collar.

Not on the west coast my friend.  I wore a collar one time (reasons to be left unsaid) and i had about a dozen people say hi to me, how's it going, head nods, etc. 

The cassock...I've literally had people turn their heads away, walk faster on the opposite side of the road, etc. 

I wonder if wearing a cross would make a difference.  There's one area where I envy the Russians.   Wink
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« Reply #28 on: September 12, 2011, 02:45:42 PM »


I wonder if wearing a cross would make a difference.  There's one area where I envy the Russians.   Wink
You can't wear one over your cassock in public?
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« Reply #29 on: September 12, 2011, 03:25:52 PM »

the oriental orthodox priests always wear a cross.
i mean they take it off at home if they are just reading on their sofa or watching tv, but i have not seen a priest outside his house without a cross ever.
even so they sometimes get mistaken for the wrong religion...
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« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2011, 04:09:06 PM »

Why is it that priests feel they can't wear a cassock to a secular job, but Muslim women feel entitled to wear burqas?

Um, completely different reasons for wearing them could be one reason. Completely different religions is another.
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« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2011, 04:15:02 PM »

^  I would only say that there is a huge difference in the way that people treat you as a priest when you wear a collar vs. a cassock.  People are much more willing to say something to you with a collar on.  The cassock is strange & unknown to most people. 

Several priests that I know report the exact opposite. The cassock appears to be a conversation-starter. People approach just because it's not the usual collar.

Not on the west coast my friend.  I wore a collar one time (reasons to be left unsaid) and i had about a dozen people say hi to me, how's it going, head nods, etc. 

The cassock...I've literally had people turn their heads away, walk faster on the opposite side of the road, etc. 

I wonder if wearing a cross would make a difference.  There's one area where I envy the Russians.   Wink

Father bless,

I'm confused, the Greek priests I've seen on the East Coast usually wear a pectoral cross with their cassock.

Also, if it makes you feel any better, a friend of mine who is a priest was out at the mall with his wife, wearing his cassock and pectoral cross. A stranger walked up to him, assumed he was a Muslim, and asked where his other wives were.

Last year, a priest visiting from Greece was beaten to death in Florida when he stopped a man in a parking garage for directions. The assailant, a former US Marine, assumed the priest was a terrorist because of his cassock, and therefore, thought the most reasonable course of action was to beat him with a tire iron.

Unfortunately, ignorance runs deep.  Cry
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« Reply #32 on: September 12, 2011, 04:16:30 PM »

Last year, a priest visiting from Greece was beaten to death in Florida when he stopped a man in a parking garage for directions. The assailant, a former US Marine, assumed the priest was a terrorist because of his cassock, and therefore, thought the most reasonable course of action was to beat him with a tire iron.

I think that guy is still alive... I remember something about him not pressing charges out of Christian humility/charity... if it's the same story I'm thinking of...
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« Reply #33 on: September 12, 2011, 04:44:47 PM »

priest survived:
http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/article1050707.ece
guys, keep wearing your cassocks!
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« Reply #34 on: September 12, 2011, 05:12:26 PM »

Last year, a priest visiting from Greece was beaten to death in Florida when he stopped a man in a parking garage for directions. The assailant, a former US Marine, assumed the priest was a terrorist because of his cassock, and therefore, thought the most reasonable course of action was to beat him with a tire iron.

I think that guy is still alive... I remember something about him not pressing charges out of Christian humility/charity... if it's the same story I'm thinking of...

It's hard for me to believe that California is less liberal about cassocks than the Bible Belt.

The priest mentioned above was not beaten to death. It's true that he was injured and hospitalized, but he recovered in a few days and returned to Greece. Btw, the assailant changed his story several times. He also said that the priest made improper advances toward him. I don't think the cassock had anything to do with the attack at all. It's my considered opinion the assailant was a nutjob.
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« Reply #35 on: September 12, 2011, 05:13:50 PM »

yeah, may God have mercy on him and show him the straight path.
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« Reply #36 on: September 12, 2011, 07:58:18 PM »

^  I would only say that there is a huge difference in the way that people treat you as a priest when you wear a collar vs. a cassock.  People are much more willing to say something to you with a collar on.  The cassock is strange & unknown to most people.  

Several priests that I know report the exact opposite. The cassock appears to be a conversation-starter. People approach just because it's not the usual collar.

Not on the west coast my friend.  I wore a collar one time (reasons to be left unsaid) and i had about a dozen people say hi to me, how's it going, head nods, etc.  

The cassock...I've literally had people turn their heads away, walk faster on the opposite side of the road, etc.  

I wonder if wearing a cross would make a difference.  There's one area where I envy the Russians.   Wink

Father, I don't mean to just be contrary (as my grandmother would say), but Fr. John Peck at St. George in Prescott, AZ (which I consider West Coast, but you may be referring to the literal coastal areas) has told me that he finds his cassock to be a conversation starter.

EDIT: Of course, it could be that the cross has something to do with it.  Fr. John wears a cross (if I'm not mistaken, though serving as the priest for a Greek Orthodox Church, he is actually technically under the OCA).
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« Reply #37 on: September 12, 2011, 08:47:35 PM »

^  I would only say that there is a huge difference in the way that people treat you as a priest when you wear a collar vs. a cassock.  People are much more willing to say something to you with a collar on.  The cassock is strange & unknown to most people.  

Several priests that I know report the exact opposite. The cassock appears to be a conversation-starter. People approach just because it's not the usual collar.

Not on the west coast my friend.  I wore a collar one time (reasons to be left unsaid) and i had about a dozen people say hi to me, how's it going, head nods, etc.  

The cassock...I've literally had people turn their heads away, walk faster on the opposite side of the road, etc.  

I wonder if wearing a cross would make a difference.  There's one area where I envy the Russians.   Wink

Father, I don't mean to just be contrary (as my grandmother would say), but Fr. John Peck at St. George in Prescott, AZ (which I consider West Coast, but you may be referring to the literal coastal areas) has told me that he finds his cassock to be a conversation starter.

EDIT: Of course, it could be that the cross has something to do with it.  Fr. John wears a cross (if I'm not mistaken, though serving as the priest for a Greek Orthodox Church, he is actually technically under the OCA).

Correct on all of the above.  Fr. John and I go way back actually, so I know the situation well.  I think:

if you have the blessing of your bishop, go for it.  Some people are VERY good at dealing with these kinds of adversarial situations.  Fr. John is definitely one of them.  For him, it's a way of doing outreach & I totally support him & agree with him. 


I wonder if wearing a cross would make a difference.  There's one area where I envy the Russians.   Wink
You can't wear one over your cassock in public?


Not in the GOA.  Not unless you have a blessing, or are a proto-presbyter & you can wear one whenever you want/every day. 

^  I would only say that there is a huge difference in the way that people treat you as a priest when you wear a collar vs. a cassock.  People are much more willing to say something to you with a collar on.  The cassock is strange & unknown to most people. 

Several priests that I know report the exact opposite. The cassock appears to be a conversation-starter. People approach just because it's not the usual collar.

Not on the west coast my friend.  I wore a collar one time (reasons to be left unsaid) and i had about a dozen people say hi to me, how's it going, head nods, etc. 

The cassock...I've literally had people turn their heads away, walk faster on the opposite side of the road, etc. 

I wonder if wearing a cross would make a difference.  There's one area where I envy the Russians.   Wink

Father bless,

I'm confused, the Greek priests I've seen on the East Coast usually wear a pectoral cross with their cassock.

Also, if it makes you feel any better, a friend of mine who is a priest was out at the mall with his wife, wearing his cassock and pectoral cross. A stranger walked up to him, assumed he was a Muslim, and asked where his other wives were.

Last year, a priest visiting from Greece was beaten to death in Florida when he stopped a man in a parking garage for directions. The assailant, a former US Marine, assumed the priest was a terrorist because of his cassock, and therefore, thought the most reasonable course of action was to beat him with a tire iron.

Unfortunately, ignorance runs deep.  Cry

Most of those priests may be proto-presbyters, or have the blessing of their bishop.  I know that Metr. Alexios in Atlanta has told all of his priests (after the incident in Florida) to wear crosses, whether or not they wear a cassock, but especially if they do.  He did this out of pastoral care for his priests, based on the events you alluded to before. 

This however is not the case for the whole archdiocese, or the GOA system as a whole. 
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« Reply #38 on: September 12, 2011, 09:09:10 PM »

Why is it that in the Greek tradition not all priests wear crosses, Father (or anyone else who knows)?
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« Reply #39 on: September 12, 2011, 09:29:49 PM »

Why is it that in the Greek tradition not all priests wear crosses, Father (or anyone else who knows)?

In the Greek tradition, wearing a pectoral cross is a sign of rank (e.g. Archimandrite).

There's the famous story of how a Russian Tsar once asked a deacon for a blessing, thinking him to be a priest. Annoyed when he found out he was mistaken, he ordered that all priests in Russia wear pectoral crosses to distinguish them from those in lower orders. I don't know how truthful that story is though.
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« Reply #40 on: September 13, 2011, 03:47:19 PM »

Why is it that in the Greek tradition not all priests wear crosses, Father (or anyone else who knows)?

yes, to echo the above, wearing a cross is a sign of rank, such as being a proto-presbyter or an Archimandrite.  For a simple priest to wear one would be "above their pay grade" so to say.  It would also be seen as a sign of disrespect to the rank that was bestowed on these other priests.  However, like I mentioned, in Atlanta they have a peculiar situation, which is definitely out of the ordinary. 
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« Reply #41 on: September 13, 2011, 06:25:06 PM »

Does anyone have any information on when the Greek and non-Greek (or is it just the Russians that differ?) practice on the matter of wearing crosses diverged?
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« Reply #42 on: September 14, 2011, 10:26:56 AM »

Why is it that in the Greek tradition not all priests wear crosses, Father (or anyone else who knows)?

In the Greek tradition, wearing a pectoral cross is a sign of rank (e.g. Archimandrite).

There's the famous story of how a Russian Tsar once asked a deacon for a blessing, thinking him to be a priest. Annoyed when he found out he was mistaken, he ordered that all priests in Russia wear pectoral crosses to distinguish them from those in lower orders. I don't know how truthful that story is though.

I have heard the above story as well, but that it was Tsarina Katarina II (18th century).  In the Greek tradition, the greeks & the Ecumenical Patriarchates (well...basically everyone except for Russia) were under the Ottoman or Muslim occupation.  If they had worn a cross, they would have been killed instantaneously.  The Turks didn't leave Europe completely until 1918.  The Muslims are still in the other patriarchates. 
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« Reply #43 on: September 14, 2011, 10:46:52 AM »

copts still wear crosses...
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« Reply #44 on: September 14, 2011, 10:52:02 AM »

copts still wear crosses...

They're also in higher numbers. 
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