VATICAN CITY, March 17 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI, in announcing a "year of the priest" at the Vatican, says he wants to see priests dressed more like priests.
The pontiff said members of the clergy should be "present, identifiable and recognizable for their faith, their personal virtues and their attire," ANSA reported.
The Italian news agency said a clothing company in Naples that provides religious garments concurs that priests have been dressing casually in recent years.
''Around 30 percent of priests dress in a (casual) scruffy manner and don't even pay attention to the color of their clothes,'' a spokesman for clothier Mastranzo told the Italian daily La Repubblica.
The outfitter said about 40 percent wear black trousers, jacket and shirt with a clerical collar combination. The remaining 30 percent don ankle-length cassocks, which should be topped with a tri-crested hat.
Another clothing provider, Bardiconi in Rome, said it is seeing move toward more traditional priestly outfits since Benedict assumed the papacy.
''With the new pope we had already noted a certain return to the classic look and a drop in casual clothes,'' Bardiconi said.
The pope announced during an audience Monday with members of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy that the "year of the priest" will begin June 19, the Catholic News Service said.