The Church has in her Code of Canon Law made it quite clear that she wants priests and religious to be readily identifiable by their attire.
Regarding religious, Canon 669 (1) states: 'As a sign of their consecration and as a witness to poverty, religious are to wear the habit of their institute, determined in accordance with the institute's own law.'
And 669 (2): 'Religious of a clerical institute who do not have a special habit are to wear clerical dress, in accordance with can. 284.'
Canon 284 states: 'Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical dress, in accordance with the norms established by the Episcopal Conference and legitimate local custom.'
True, there may be occasions when lay attire is justified for priests or religious. However, given the widespread use of such non-distinctive attire, it seems some clarification of the canonical requirements is needed.
FR G.H. DUGGAN SM
Silverstream, New Zealand