What would constructive comments on this photo look like? Perhaps simple questions would be the proper response to such an image, questions like the following: How is this costume, chosen by a very high Vatican official, a source of encouragement for returning Catholics? Is it possible that such clothing could offer some remedy to the serious bleeding away of membership in the Catholic church? What positive things does it have to say to the growing number of Catholics, especially our young people (anyone under 50), who find the institutional church increasingly irrelevant?
Might this flamboyant clothing partly explain why countless Christians now claim to be spiritual but want nothing to do with organized religion? Could this expensive finery help somehow to restore the public’s current suspicions about Roman Catholic clergy, and the bishops’ nearly extinct credibility? And at the risk of dragging the gospel into this, how does dressing in this fashion help to unfold the meaning of gospel simplicity? Finally, how on earth does this square with Matthew 23, where Jesus warns about leaders wearing religious paraphernalia in order to be noticed. He said, simply, “Don't do what they do.”