The Fightback and its Heroes: Doyle, Sipe and Wall.

I have just taken a peek at Richard Sipe’s blog on the sartorially excellent, once Lord High Bishop of St Louis, Raymond Burke, who has now just been made up to a cardinal.  Dick always did look good but only as good as most in that divine brotherhood and Richard after talking to his friends has nominated Ray as haute couture episcopate of the year.  Richard Sipe at least should know what he is talking about as he was a Benedictine monk for 18 years and along with Tom Doyle, a Dominican priest and Patrick Wall, another Benedictine monk, wrote the best selling book Sex, Priests and Secret Codes.  They are recognised as being the foremost experts on clerical abuse and have given their expert testimony in thousands of clerical trials against aberrant priests in America and round the world.

In his blog Richard Sipe describes the raiment a thoughtful bishop needs, to maintain the splendour of his office and these include two different types of mitre (pointy hat) and a zuchetto (a little skull cap) and a biretta (a four cornered collapsible hat for walking out in).  Around his ecclesiastical body, he swathes himself in either a purple cassock and matching sash for saying mass in or a black one with purple trim for walking out in.  Handily the sash doubles up for either.  Around his neck he wears a pectoral cross hung from a special braided cord and over the cassock, he wears an amice, a piece of white linen that is the remnant of a hood.  Then he wears an alb, a long white robe which is trimmed with lace at the cuff and hem.  This is tied round in a cincture, which is a braided rope, like a belt.

He wears a stole around his neck which hangs down to below his waist and matches his outer vestments.  On his right arm he wears a maniple, a narrow strip of cloth that matches his stole and looks like a napkin a waiter hangs over his wrist.  He then wears a tunic over all this which can be anything from a coloured plain overall to a magnificently jewelled one and over that he dons a dalmatic which is identical to the tunic only it has a distinguishing bar.  Then on top of everything he wears the bejewelled chasuble, the highly coloured garment which is most visible and which comes in various designs and colours depending the occasion and the time of year the mass is being said in.  On his legs he wears buskins, which are leggings, like the lining of boots only they are made from silk.  On his feet ceremonial slippers in different designs to suit the chasuble and on his hands gloves also to match.  A ring on his right hand symbolizing his wedded state to the Church and a crozier (a staff) finishes the whole thing off.  The crozier denotes that he is a shepherd of men.

Colours of chasuble, maniple, stole and slippers and which are official colours are red, white, green, purple, rose and black with gold and blue optional.  So for these four items of apparel the old bish needs eight separate costly items because colour co-ordination is an absolute must.  When he says concelebrated high mass, he is assisted by a deacon, a sub-deacon and an arch-priest and two deacons of honour who all have to wear vestments to match his goodness.

Archbishop Raymond Burke – photo courtesy of

The cost of these items is amazing.  His bejewelled mitre over $8,000, his gloves $1,400, his slippers over a $1,000, his dalmatic up to $10,000 and his chasuble up to $12,000.  The minimum cost of clothing for the bishop to get out of bed for is possibly over $30,000 and his bling, the cross $7,000, his ring $4,000 and his mitre which is made to order could be any price in the multiple thousands and they all go to the premier episcopal tailors in Rome, Ars Regia or Gammerelli’s who seem to have the market cornered.  I wonder if the Pope has shares in the business.

Vatican II emphasised the simplification of this dress code but Benny 16 has brought back this extravagant medievalism of the church, presumably because he thinks it impresses his dull as ditch-water congregation.  Ray Burke is one of a growing number of episcopates who consider themselves part of a privileged aristocracy, lording it over us poor swine, but all this splendour and finery does is bring out the fears and insecurities of the Church’s hierarchy.

Go to Richard Sipe’s blog,, and click on Archbishop Burke photo album and see the glory and colour and also try and read everything these three men, Doyle, Sipe and Walls, have and are writing.  They are leading the fight against this apostasy, this bunkum that is the Church today.

I now give an itemised shopping list the modern go-getting, do-gooding, penetrating, sharp, commercially minded would- be Bishop needs to keep in mind, when he puts in those extra hours hoping for a promotion.

Mitre, bejewelled $18,000
Mitre, plain gold $1,050
Zuchetto $175
Biretta $350
Amice $40 He would have at least 3 more in the wash $120
Cassock, purple $550 Black with purple trimmings $550
Sash $175
Pectoral Cross $1,800
Cord for Cross $250
Alb $550 He would have 2 more hanging up $1,100
Cincture $300 He would have 2 more hanging up $600
Stole $1,000 He would have 7 more hanging up $7,000
Maniple $800 He would have 7 more hanging up $5,600
Tunic $1,500 He would have 7 more hanging up $10,500
Dalmatic $1,500 He would have 7 more hanging up $10,500
Chasuble $9,000 He would have 7 more hanging up $63,500
Buskins $200 He would have 2 more pairs $400
Socks $20 He would have 5 more pairs $100
Slippers $800 He would have 7 more pairs $5,600
Ring $3,700
Gloves $1,000 He would have 7 more pairs $7,000
Crozier $2,000 He would have another one $2,000
Total $44,760 $114,570

And that is not allowing for his acolytes who I have got to say can tog themselves out cheaper but not by much.

Therefore the old loftiness needs $44,740 to walk down stairs and $114,000 to be dressed for all dances, a total of $158,740 and that is buying stuff in the sales.  Now where the hell does this thrusting young whipper-snapper get this kind of mazuma from.  Why, of course, you auld eejit, from me and you in the collection box.  Correction, from you, I stopped giving and going years ago.

Do not forget the three main men, DOYLE, SIPE and WALLS.

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