VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has done away with the honorific title “monsignor” for all but a few priests, further evidence of his desire for priests to be simple, humble servants.
The Vatican’s Secretary of State sent a letter to its embassies asking them to inform bishops’ conferences of the change. From now on, the Vatican reported Tuesday, only diocesan priests who are “chaplains of the Holy Father,” will receive the honorific, and then only after they turn 65.
Bishops, vicars and archbishops still get to be called “monsignor” and Holy See officials will have the title if their office warrants it.
Monsignor Michael Hohenbrink, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Findlay, was named a monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. The honorary title is given to some clergy in honor of their service to the church.
Hohenbrink said the title is a lifetime title and will not be revoked for him or any other clergy already named a monsignor, but will be given only to a very select number of chaplains to the pope in the future.
Hohenbrink said he wasn’t surprised or disappointed by the pope’s decision.
“I still go by ‘Father Mike,’” Hohenbrink said.
The Vatican noted that Pope Paul VI reduced the number of ecclesiastic honorifics in 1968 and that Francis’ decision “should be taken in this vein, as a further simplification.”
Courier staff contributed to this report.
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