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What’s in a title?

HONG KONG (SE): What’s in a title? Well, according to Pope Francis quite a lot and very little.

In an article published in La Stampa in Italy on January 4, it was announced that the title of monsignor will no longer be handed out with the ease it once was.

The article says that it is well known that the pope has always been adverse to ecclesiastical titles and when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires he always asked people to call him Father.

He has not been the only one to recoil at the title of Bishop. A former archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn in Australia also asked people to call him Father Francis in casual conversation and when introducing him formally, diocesan protocol called for, “The Archbishop of Canbera and Goulburn, Father Francis Carroll.”

He, along with Pope Francis, believed that it better reflected the mission that had been entrusted to him as a priest or bishop.

In what is being described as a move to eliminate careerism among the clergy, the title Monsignor will now be limited to priests over the age of  65.

However, the measure will not be retroactive and nor will it affect Vatican officials and diplomatic personnel, or members of religious congregations.

Chaplain to His Holiness will in future be the only grade of monsignorship conferred in the future. Pope Paul VI reduced the possible number of monsignoral titles from 14 to three and now there is only one.


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