Monsignor (//; Italian: monsignore [monsiɲˈɲoːre]) is a form of address or title for certain members of the clergy in the Catholic Church. Monsignor is the apocopic form of the Italian monsignore, meaning "my lord". "Monsignor" can be abbreviated as Mons. or Msgr.[a][b] In some countries, the title "monsignor" is used as a form of address for bishops. However, in English-speaking countries, the title is unrelated to the episcopacy, though many priests with the title later become bishops.
The title "monsignor" is a form of address, not an appointment (such as a bishop or cardinal). A priest cannot be "made a monsignor" or become "the monsignor of a parish". The title "Monsignor" is normally used by clergy who have received one of the three classes of papal honors:
- Protonotary apostolic (the highest honored class)
- Honorary prelate
- Chaplain of His Holiness (the lowest honored class)
The pope bestows these honors upon clergy who:
- Have rendered a valuable service to the church
- Provide some special function in church governance
- Are members of bodies such as certain chapters
Clerics working in the Roman Curia and the Vatican diplomatic service are eligible for all three honors. Priests working in a diocese are only eligible for the "Chaplain of His Holiness" honor. Priests must be nominated by their bishop and (for appointments after 2013) must be at least 65 years old.
Current honor rules edit
Current honor classes edit
Pope Paul VI, in his 1968 publication motu proprio Pontificalis Domus, reduced the number of papal honors allowing "Monsignor" as a style from 14 to three. The protonotary apostolic class was divided into two subsections. The classes of chamberlains and chaplains were abolished, leaving only a single class of "chaplains of his holiness". The three papal honor classes are:
- Protonotary apostolic (two subclasses):
- De numero (the higher and less common form)
- Supernumerary (the highest grade of monsignor found outside the Vatican)
- Prelate of Honour of His Holiness (formerly the "domestic prelate")
- Chaplain of His Holiness (formerly the "supernumerary privy chamberlain")
Current honor eligibility edit
At the October 2013 meeting of the Council of Cardinal Advisers, Pope Francis stated his desire to scale back the honors as part of a broader effort to project a more modest and pastoral vision of leadership. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis never requested papal honors for his priests, associating the honors with clerical "careerism".
In December 2013, Pope Francis decreed that diocesan priests could become "Chaplain of His Holiness", the lowest of the three papal honors. He also set a minimum age required of 65. Existing honors were not affected. Pope Francis decided to continue papal honors from all three classes for two groups of clergy:
Current forms of address edit
This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2021)
These are the current forms of address for a monsignor:
- The written form is Monsignor (first name) (last name) or The Reverend Monsignor (first name) (last name). For example, "Monsignor Bob Smith" or "The Reverend Monsignor Bob Smith".
- The spoken form is Monsignor (last name). For example, "Monsignor Smith".
In English speaking countries, bishops and archbishops are not called "monsignor." However, in 1969 the Vatican Secretariat of State indicated that bishops may be addressed as "monsignor." In some countries, the titles "Monsignore", "Monseigneur", "Monsenyor", and "Monseñor" are used for bishops, archbishops and any other prelates below the rank of cardinal or patriarch.
The 1969 instruction also indicated that for bishops "Reverendissimus" (translated as "most reverend") could be added to the word "monsignor". For example, the "Most Reverend Monsignor John Doe". This instruction also applied to:
- Prelates without episcopal rank who head offices of the Roman Curia
- Judges of the Rota
- The promotor general of justice and the defender of the bond of the Apostolic Signatura
- Protonotaries apostolic "de numero"
- The four clerics of the camera.
Current ecclesiastical dress edit
In 1979, the Vatican simplified the dress of monsignors:
Chaplains of His Holiness edit
Honorary prelates edit
Red-trimmed black cassocks with purple sashes, good for all occasions. Purple cassocks as choir dress for liturgical events of special solemnity.
Supernumerary protonotaries apostolics edit
Red-trimmed black cassocks with purple sashes. Purple cassocks as choir dress. Can also wear the purple ferraiuolo, a silk cape. The ferraiuolo is for non-liturgical events, such as graduation and commencement ceremonies.
Protonotaries apostolics de numero edit
Previous honor rules edit
Previous honor classes edit
The Catholic church originally maintained 14 classes of papal honors. A priest with the title of "privy chamberlain" would lose the title when the pope who granted it died. When the pope abolished the privy chamberlain class in 1968, the rule was abolished also. These 14 previous classes included:
- Domestic prelates
- Four kinds of protonotaries apostolic,
- Four kinds of papal chamberlains, and at least
- Five types of papal chaplains.
The 14 honor categories were reduced to three categories in 1969.
Previous age requirements edit
Under Pope Paul VI, the Secretariat of State set minimum qualifications of age and priesthood for the three papal honor classes:
- Chaplains of his holiness – minimum age 35 and 10 years as priest
- Honorary prelates – minimum age 45 and 15 years as priest
- Protonotaries apostolic supernumerary – minimum age 55 and 20 years as priest
The Secretariat waived the minimum age limit for vicars general proposed for appointment as honorary prelates. The reasoning was that as long as a priest holds the office of vicar general, he is also protonotary apostolic supernumerary. A vicar general could not be named chaplain of his holiness. All these criteria were superseded in 2013.
Previous forms of address edit
- Priests with the title "Chaplain of His Holiness" were formerly addressed in English as "The Very Reverend Monsignor".
- Priests with the titles "Protonotary Apostolic" or honorary prelate were addressed as "The Right Reverend Monsignor".
These forms were changed in 1969.
Generic coat of arms of an honorary prelate: amaranth galero with 12 violet tassels
Generic coat of arms of a chaplain of his holiness: black galero with 12 violet tassels
Other monsignors edit
Under the legislation of Pope Pius X, vicars general and vicars capitular (now called diocesan administrators) are titular (not actual) Protonotaries durante munere. As long as these priests hold the office, they can have the title "monsignor". Vicars general and diocesan administrators were allowed to wear:
- A black, silk-fringed sash (fascia),
- Black piping on the biretta with a black tuft
- A black mantelletta
As a result of this they were in some countries referred to as "black protonotaries".[page needed] However, Pontificalis domus of Paul VI removed this position (titular protonotaries) from the Papal Household, even though the title of "monsignor", which is to be distinguished from a prelatial rank, has not been withdrawn from vicars general, as can be seen, for instance, from the placing of the abbreviated title "Mons." before the name of every member of the secular (diocesan) clergy listed as a vicar general in the Annuario Pontificio.
See also edit
- The New York Times, 15 February 1918.
- "The Rt Rev Mgr Graham Leonard", The Telegraph (obituary), UK, 6 January 2010.
- Deceased clergy, Australian Catholic Directory.
- Clergy within Diocese, UK: Romanist catholic Diocese of Paisley, archived from the original on September 5, 2009
- Catholic Dallas, archived from the original on December 17, 2014
- Bulletin (PDF), Miami Archdiocese, 2009-03-09, archived from the original (PDF) on October 11, 2010
- Office directory, Diocese of Tyler, archived from the original on September 1, 2009
- Contacts, Derry diocese, archived from the original on November 24, 2009
- Zejtun parish, Malta, archived from the original on 2009-12-12.
- Annuario Pontificio 2012, p. 1853
- Il Messaggero (PDF), Fine settimana, 12 September 2013, archived from the original (PDF) on 6 January 2014.
- "Pope scales back honorifics", The Tablet, Rorate Cæli, Sep 2013, archived from the original on January 8, 2014
- O'Connell, Gerard (4 January 2014). "Pope abolishes honorary title of monsignor for diocesan priests under the age of 65". Vatican Insider. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
- Rocca, Francis X. (January 6, 2014), "Pope limits 'monsignor' honor for diocesan priests", Catholic News Service, archived from the original on 2014-01-07
- "Pope Francis reforms ecclesiastical honours", Vatican Radio, 7 January 2014.
- Annuario Pontificio, Vaticana, 2013, pp. 1846–48, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1.
- Pope Pius X (21 February 1905), Inter multiplices curas, 62,
Pariter, qui vicarii generalis aut etiam capitularis munere fungitur, hoc munere dumtaxat perdurante, erit protonotarius titularis.
- Secretary of State 2000: “26. For Supernumerary Apostolic Protonotaries, Prelates of Honour and Chaplains of His Holiness there may be used the title 'Monsignor', preceded, where appropriate, by 'Reverend'”.
- Secretary of State 2000, 23–25.
- Galles 1999.
- "Super habitu quotidiano, occasione solemnis conventus, audientiae et similium... zonam tantum sericam nigram, cum laciniis item nigris, gestare poterunt, cum pileo chordula ac floccis nigris ornato" (Inter multiplices curas, 67).
- Noonan 1996.
- Baumgarten, Paul Maria (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.).
- Boudinhon, A. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.).
- Galles, Duane LCM (March 19, 1999), Chaplains of His Holiness, St. Joseph Foundation, archived from the original on June 1, 2012, retrieved 2006-09-01
- Heim, Bruno Bernard (1978). Heraldry in the Catholic Church. Humanities Press. ISBN 0-391-00873-0.
- Kirsch, J.P. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.).
- Secretary of State, Cardinal (2000) [28 March 1969], Miranda, Salvador (ed.), "Instruction on the dress, titles and coat-of-arms of cardinals, bishops and lesser prelates", L'Osservatore Romano, The Vatican, vol. II, p. 4, retrieved 2006-09-01 Latin text of the Instruction, with an unofficial English translation.
- Noonan, James-Charles jr (1996), The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church, Viking, pp. 315–16, ISBN 0-670-86745-4
- Montini, Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria (28 March 1968), Pontificalis domus [On the Papal Household, Reform of the Use of Pontifical Insignia, Simplification of Pontifical Rites and Insignia] (in Latin), Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, Italian
- ——— (21 June 1968), Pontificalis insignia [Pontifical insignia] (in Latin), Rome, IT: The Vatican, Italian