Pope limits ‘monsignor’ title for priests at least 65 years old
A priest has to be at least 65 years old to hold the title of “monsignor” in the Roman Catholic Church from now on.
Pope Francis’ decision to limit the honor of “monsignor” among diocesan riests to those at least 65 years old was recently announced in a letter from the Vatican Secretariat of State to bishops around the world, the Catholic News Service reported.
Cebu has over 200 diocesan priests of which 30 to 35 hold the title of monsignor.
The new Vatican policy is not retroactive and those already named monsignors will retain their title.
The report was also carried in Ang Bag-ong Lungsoranon, the official newsletter of the Cebu Archdiocese.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, upon the request of then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, conferred the title of “monsignor” on 18 priests in Cebu.
Five Cebu monsignors have the title Protonotary Apostolic, the highest among the three grades of monsignor: Msgr. Adelito Abella, Msgr. Esteban Binghay, Msgr. Achilles Dakay, Msgr. Cayetano Gelbolingo and Msgr. Roberto Alesna.
These priests can administer the Sacrament of Confirmation which was originally performed by bishops.
The title of “monsignor” is conferred on priests who have rendered valuable service to the Church. They have privileges in ecclesiastical dress and vestments.
Msgr. Binghay told Cebu Daily News he welcomed Pope Francis’ new policy.
No reason was stated for the change in the Vatican letter but the Pope has often warned clergy against the temptation of “careerism” and personal ambition.
Binghay said the title of “monsignor”may create “division and elitism” which should be avoided.
“We may be fortunate to be named ‘monsignor’ but it is not about the title. All of us should not aspire for titles. We should instead work hard for God’s glory even without being called a monsignor,” he said.
The pope’s decision was in line with his call for simplicity and the need for clergy members to be close to their flock, especially the poor.
Pope Francis preferred to simply be called “Father” even when he was bishop and then cardinal of Argentina.
According to the article, the pope is convinced that the name ‘Father’ best reflects the mission that was entrusted to a priest, bishop or cardinal.
During his tenure as archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 to 2013, Pope Francis never requested the Vatican to confer the title of ‘monsignor’ on any priest in his archdiocese.
Of the three grades of monsignor namely “Protonotary Apostolic,” “Honorary Prelate ”, and “Papal Chaplain ,” only the last will be conferred to worthy diocesan priests who reach the age of 65, the CNS reported./Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.