In a statement issued by the Secretariat of State, the Vatican said it had informed bishops’ conferences, through a circular sent via their corresponding nunciatures, that “in the world’s dioceses, the only ecclesiastical title henceforth to be conferred shall be “chaplain of His Holiness”, to which the appellation, “monsignor”, shall correspond. The title shall be conferred only upon priests who have reached the age of 65.” [I scratched my head too when I came to know of a priest who is not even in his 50s yet, to get the monsignori title and conferred with a Protonotary Apostolic super de numero, which is the highest outside of the Diocese of Rome. Made me ask how he got it. I have my theories after hearing stories from priests how some monsignori got theirs.]
from the National Catholic Register
Confirming rumors over the past few days, the Vatican announced today that in dioceses, the title of “monsignor” will henceforth only be granted to priests who are at least 65 years of age. [Not all the rumors are true though.]
The circular further clarifies that the use of the title “monsignor” in connection with certain major offices and where this is a cultural practice – such as for a bishop or the vicar general of the diocese - “remains unchanged.” [Vicars general still are addressed as such.]
Concerning the Roman Curia, the Vatican said “no change has been made either in the titles or in the use of the appellation “monsignor”, these being connected to the offices entrusted, and to the service performed.”
The statement added that the new rule “has no retroactive effect” and that those “who received a title in the past, keep it.”
There are three grades of monsignor: apostolic protonotary, honorary prelate of His Holiness, and chaplain of His Holiness. Bishops are asked to resubmit any pending requests for papal honors in accordance with the new rules.
The Vatican did not explain the reasons for the change, but the move is being seen as consistent with Pope Francis’ warnings against careerism and personal ambition within the clergy. [uh-huh....like that young priest who suddenly became secretary to the most powerful prelate in the country today...and he acts as if he is now the archbishop...right Reggie?]
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters yesterday that Pope Paul VI had reformed the system of ecclesiastical honors in 1968, reducing the number of titles to three.
"Pope Francis' decision thus follows in the same line, with further simplification," he said.
Some bishops abused their powers of conferring titles to certain priests. The title is conferred upon a priest who deserved it for his years of service and significant contribution to the growth of the Church, not just by holding the position.
There are lots of stories I can share about seminarians who are quickly singled out as possible "monsignori material" or even "bishop material" while they are still in their theological studies, all due to the fact that the powers may be are moving their hands so that this guy gets promoted, while they wield their powers behind the watchful eyes of other priests and bishops.
Some priests are really more deserving of the honorific title of monsignor because of the hard work they did. Others are plain after the title. I still wonder how some got theirs. No excellent record in parochial or chancery work. A poor preacher. Poor administrator... Really mind boggling how someone could get honored for doing nothing!
One became cardinal.
Hope this reform of Pope Francis is really seen affecting the life in the diocese. Will we see priests working hard to get the title? Definitely it would limit the appointing power of the bishop, and priests looking to get the title and all the accouterments that come with the honor must either work hard to get it or pray that they live longer than 65 to qualify for the honors.
But on second thought.
Did Christ rebuke the apostles for fighting over who gets to be first?
The monsignori title is granted to those who deserve it like other papal awards. It is not a sacrament but a public acknowledgement of a priest's hard work.
Pope Francis is not destroying traditions in the Church, in this respect IMHO. He is putting things in perspective, IMHO.