Skip to comments.Pope abolishes honorary title of monsignor for diocesan priests under the age of 65
Posted on 01/04/2014 1:17:16 PM PST by NYer
In a new move aimed at reforming the clergy and eliminating careerism in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has abolished the conferral of the Pontifical Honor of Monsignor on secular priests under the age of 65.
Henceforth, the only Pontifical Honor that will be conferred on secular priests will be that of Chaplain to His Holiness and this will be conferred only on worthy priests who are over 65 years of age. (Secular priests are priests in a diocese, who are not monks or members of religious institutes or orders).
The Vaticans Secretariat of State has communicated this news to Apostolic Nuncios around the world, and has asked them to inform all bishops in their respective countries of the decision in this regard taken by Pope Francis.
Thus, for example, on January 2, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, wrote to all the bishops in Great Britain to inform them of the Popes decision. He confirmed that the privileges in this regard that have already been granted by the Roman Pontiff to physical or juridical persons remain in force. This would suggest that the papal decree is not retroactive, those who are already monsignors will not lose their title.
The decision does not come as a surprise to those who know Pope Francis. A humble man, he has always been averse to ecclesiastical titles, and when he was bishop and later cardinal in Argentina he always asked people to call him Father, instead of My Lord, Your Grace or Your Eminence; he is convinced that the name Father best reflects the mission that has been entrusted to a priest, bishop or cardinal. Indeed, during his tenure as archbishop of Buenos Aires (1998-2013), he never asked the Holy See to confer the title of monsignor on any priest in the archdiocese.
In taking this decision, Pope Francis is building on the reform in this area of ecclesiastical titles that was introduced by Paul VI in 1968, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Before Paul VIs reform there were 14 grades of monsignor, he reduced them to the three ranks that exist today: Apostolic Protonotary, Honorary Prelate of His Holiness, Chaplain of His Holiness. The original titles dated back to the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644).
These three honors are granted by the Pope, usually on the proposal of the local bishop, to Catholic priests who have rendered particularly valuable service to the Church. The priests are given these Pontifical Honors may be addressed as Monsignor and has certain privileges, such as those regarding ecclesiastical dress and vestments.
Many bishops have tended to use the honor as a way of rewarding priests who are particularly loyal to them, or to promote priests who have showed particular initiative, but not infrequently priests in their dioceses have read it in a different light. Just before Christmas, a senior Vatican prelate told me that Pope Francis had recently refused the request of one bishop who had asked him to confer the title of Monsignor on no less than 12 priests in his diocese. Another source told me that in some countries the Pontifical Honor is conferred in a ceremony that, sometimes, is far from the style of Church that Francis desires.
The Popes decision does not make any changes regarding the conferral of Pontifical Honors for Religious and Lay people, the Vatican Secretariat of State stated in its communication to the nuncios. It said the same conditions apply as previously for such honors, as does the mode for requesting them.
Jesus, Luke 11:43
Upon his receiving the honorific of Monsignor, I asked our pastor how many priests gain that title.
He replied, “We have a saying: for every one who wears the purple, four will have the blues.”
As for Pope Francis, does the movie “Shoes of the Fisherman” apply here?
And so begins another round of “Sunnis and Shias”.
Good. I want to see the ring-kissing go away too. It has nothing to do with religion. It’s from the times when bishops were a secular power.
If someone is truly great, as is Francis, he doesn’t need artificial trappings that once belonged to princes and princesses.
If someone is truly great, as is Francis, he doesnt need artificial trappings that once belonged to princes and princesses.
Post of the century. You are so right. I think Francis is the best thing to happen to the Catholic Church practically forever. He is so refreshing. I could care less what the haters think. He is perfect!
Bishops are princes and the Pope is a monarch. Manners change over time, but this is not subject to change.
The world has known plenty of humble monarchs, and His Holiness is one of them.
My first reaction was, what, more changes? But on further consideration, I agree with him here.
This was a late development in the Church, stemming from the time when Popes tended to think of themselves as the height of the nobility.
” I want to see the ring-kissing go away too. It has nothing to do with religion. Its from the times when bishops were a secular power.”
I want more of the hand-kissing since it goes back to BEFORE bishops were a secular power. In the Orthodox Churches it is still the custom in many places to kiss the hands of a priest and bishops. The difference is that with the priest they say
“Father bless” and with the bishop they say “Master bless.”
If you hate to see people kissing a priest’s hands, then don’t watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqUHY0_Cq-c&feature=related
S, we’ll do what you want - not kiss the bishop’s ring - but now everyone will have to kiss the hands of every Catholic and Orthodox priest or bishop they meet. How’s that?
Term limits in the Catholic Church?
They do have mandatory retirement of either 65 or 75 for priests.
Interesting. I grew up in the New York Archdiocese. Just about every parish pastor was made a monsignor, especially if they had built a new church building or school.
Now, I have lived in California for over 40 years. Monsignors are few and far between out here. In our Diocese of San Bernardino, which is the 4th or 5th largest diocese in the US, there are only a handful of priests with the monsignor title. I only know of two, so perhaps there are a couple more, and one of those two passed away last year at a very old age. We have some very successful parish pastors here who have accomplished a great deal in establishing new parishes. None are monsignors.
” In the Orthodox Churches it is still the custom in many places to kiss the hands of a priest and bishops.”
It’s our custom everywhere so far as I know. Whern we meet a priest or hierarch, we kiss his right hand. We will all line up and kiss the priest’s hand tomorrow after the Divine Liturgy’ He will give us anditheron and bless us. It’s a good thing.
“And so begins another round of Sunnis and Shias.”
I quoted Christ’s comments on “respectful greetings” without personal comment.
I agree. It is a good thing.
In the post-Carolingian era, high born laymen would treat bishops and priests who were commoners as if they were servants and inferiors.
One of the ways in which the Church responded was by conferring titles of honor on clergy to insist that titled laity treat their pastors with more respect.
Another way, of course, was by selecting bishops and abbots from among the nobly-born clergy.
I for one am glad that the Church asserted itself by creating its own nobility rather than just allowing secular nobility to dominate and direct the Church as if it were a mere adjunct of earthly politics.
But yes, these titles and distinctions are less meaningful in an era when the ability to deliver blocs of votes is more important than birth as a measure of social power.
The same problem remains, however: how will the Christian clergy develop the proper esprit de corps to challenge the disdain and disrespect they increasingly receive from secular politicians?
Ending outmoded honors does not provide a full answer.