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Pope curbs use of title 'monsignor'

January 06, 2014

Pope Francis has cut back severely on the use of the honorary title “monsignor” for Catholic priests.

Shortly after his election, Pope Francis instructed the Secretariat of State to stop approving requests for the designation of priests as “monsignors.” The Secretariat of State has now informed the world’s bishops that the title will only be conferred upon “worthy priests” who are above the age of 65.

The title of “monsignor,” which is purely honorary, has traditionally been conferred upon the recommendation of diocesan bishops. However all such titles require the approval of the Holy See.

In the past the Vatican acknowledged 14 different grades of monsignors. In 1968, as part of his campaign to eliminate outdated ceremonies and titles, Pope Paul VI abolished 11 of those grades, leaving 3 types of monsignors: Apostolic Protonotaries, Honorary Prelates of His Holiness, and Chaplains of His Holiness. Pope Francis has now eliminated the first two rankings, leaving only Chaplains of His Holiness.

The Pope’s decision is not retroactive. Priests who have already attained the rank of “monsignor” will retain that distinction.


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  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Jan. 24, 2014 9:13 PM ET USA

    You know, it is interesting to note that the use of the honor of "Monsignor" for priests under 65 has been terminated everywhere in the Church -- EXCEPT in the Roman Curia! Given the admitted need for a thorough house-cleaning, you would think that would be the FIRST place the Pope would start. Something doesn't add up.