If an ordained cleric is not wearing the stole for confessions or blessings or distributing Holy Communion, then what is one to assume? Here's atmospheric electricity from Ezekiel 22:26...
"Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them."
People in the Rome newtwork often prefer to go to confession at the Gesu' with Jesuits or St. Mary Major with Dominicans. More often then not, you never see stoles here or there anymore.
Last month in Padua while at "il Santo" I entered the "Chapel of the Benedictions" and watched as the Polish cleric blessed person after person with no stole. As the embarassed layman I simply asked for a reason. Then I got a lecture on why the stole isn't "necessary" for God's grace.
Folks, let's just obey rules; and custom and the voice of Mother Church.
I cannot speak for secular clergy or those of other orders but I do know that in the case of the Franciscans they have an indult by which as long as they are wearing their capuce (or cowl, or hood) which is part of their habit the stole is not absolutely necessary. BUT, that is only the case for Franciscans as far as I know. The others have no excuse.
"Then I got a lecture on why the stole isn't "necessary" for God's grace."
Could someone explain this reductionist "mentality" to me, particularly as it applies to all things liturgical?
The person could be a friar rather than a priest in which case he is acting as an acolyte and ordinary minister in distributing Holy Communion which explains the absence of a stole.
I agree with everything you are saying, however with regard to the picture, is it not possible that this person was just an acolyte and therefore not wearing the stole for good reason?
Fr. Selvester is right, conventual franciscans have the privilege to hear confessions without stole and surplice, as you can see at St. Peter in Rome (where conventual franciscans are in charge as "penitenzieri"). At the Pontifical Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua they do the same. But nevertheless they have to wear the stole for giving communion or blessings.
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