A cappello romano or saturno (because its appearance is reminiscent of the ringed planet Saturn) is a hat with a wide, circular brim and a rounded crown worn outdoors by Catholic clergy when dressed in a cassock. Along with the biretta, it’s become very popular in the United States among priests who wear cassocks. Many of these are traditional priests, but not all of them. Some are part of the English Patrimony Ordinariates. Some are still seminarians. Some of them are just regular Catholic priests in regular dioceses.
However, Pope Francis recently made some derogatory comments about priests who wear the saturno…
“Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn (the saturno) on their heads? Behind all the rigid clericalism there are serious problems.”
“I had to intervene recently in three dioceses with problems that expressed themselves in these forms of rigidity that concealed moral problems and imbalances.”
This was a stereotype if I ever heard one, and if the quote is accurate, the Holy Father was promoting a particularly nasty and pernicious stereotype at that. Sure, he may have had to intervene in three cases, out of hundreds (or maybe thousands) of priests who wear saturni, but that’s just three cases. Priests who wear a certain kind of hat are not always ridged or acting on clericalism. The hat doesn’t make you into a bad person. I’m not going to get into any further criticism of the Holy Father on this matter. Suffice it to say I think it’s unfair, and I know some priests who told me some time back that they would like to have a saturno to wear. I was going to buy one for one of these priests, but alas, they’re a little pricey.
However, the Holy Father has serendipitously created the circumstance by which I might be able to get him one. A good friend of mine started a GoFundMe account for two priests who want saturni. In the wake of Pope Francis’ comments, there would be no better time to start such a campaign. So I made my contribution, contacted my friend, and now I have my priest’s name on the list to get one. He says he’s receiving lots of requests for the hats now, but needs more generous contributions to the cause in order to get his priests “covered” (pun intended). Please consider doing your part. Here’s the GoFundMe account.