The Title Of “Monsignor” Goes (Almost) The Way Of The Mozzetta


And it came to pass the Bishop of Rome decided no one can be made “Monsignore” anymore until he is 65 and has, presumably, lost almost all trains to become a bishop.

Apparently, this should help stem careerism.

It might well be, but yours truly cannot avoid posing himself the following questions:

1. Monsignors have been around for several centuries now. Was it an ingenious way to promote careerism, or were there other motives? Like for example giving a particular recognition to priests who would not become bishops, or were not interested in becoming such?

2. How will the abolition of the title of Monsignor help to eradicate careerism? People are careerist, or they aren’t. They aren’t careerist because the title of Monsignor exists. Those who were careerist before will be just as careerist afterwards. They might though, in case, become even more slimy in order to be made bishop. I see a lot of particularly “pastoral” (read: heretical, and forgetful of Christ) ambitious priests in our future. Conversely, those who were good and holy and humble (really humble) men of God will remain so upon being made Monsignore. See, ahem, picture above. Please also notice the measure is not retroactive: not one of those careerist priest who have apparently caused this decision will lose his title.

3.  Is the principle itself of giving recognition to people deemed worthy now suddenly bad? What is this, rank egalitarianism? Is not a bishop considered ipso facto a particularly worthy shepherd? Is the appointment to Cardinal not considered a great personal honour? Does the Church not give recognition, through his own organisations, right and left, even to fag scientists?   Yes, we know: not all of these honours will be wisely given. But this is human nature. The execution might be at times unsound, but the principle is certainly fine. Is not in the end even the beatifications and canonisations made for this reason, that worthy people can be taken as help and example for the others? By the thousands of saints already available there is no need to make new ones, surely? And still, the same V II Pope who now tell us that careerism is bad now proceed to their own serial beatification and canonisation!? Why? *

4. In certain situations, the title of Monsignore is (was) just what the doctor ordered. Say, you have a new Ordinariate and the one you want to put at its head is married, so he can’t be a bishop. Appointment to Monsignor, et voila’, everything is in its right order!  One wonders what will happen in future in such situations. And I do not think of converts necessarily. A military Ordinariate, for example, is another of those situations.

One may understand the reason for the measure. But I doubt this has been thought through accurately.

There will not be one single careerist less, at least because of this measure. But many occasions to extol the work of good and holy priest will be lost.

It is, in fact, as if the Queen would abolish the Honours List because there are people who would do everything to be among those honoured.

A very Argentine measure.


* note for the distracted readers: canonisations are infallible, but not obligatory. No doctor has ever ordered a canonisation. Even in the presence of several miracles, a Pope is always free to decide whether or not to proceed. One reason for his prudence could be, for example, to avoid giving the impression that the canonisations of Popes are self-serving. 

Posted on January 7, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I am not a fan of much of what I hear regarding Pope Francis, but I am not so sure he is all wrong on this one (for once).

    One of the things that was great about St. Don Bosco (and I am not sure if this is 100% correct, but if it is it was rgeat) was that he was offered the title of Monsignor – and turned it down. From what I understand, he felt it would “distance” him too much from those he served, and then he could never be as effective in his work of relating to the troubled youth.

    I agree with that, and personally I find it refreshing when someone is offered such a title and turns it down. I think in old age, as a sort of “recognition” for years served it could be offered, but for those still serving in parishes, etc., I think it can act as a sort of “pretentious” barrier. Not that every person who becomes a Monsignor would become pretentious – but the trappings of pretension.

    A humble priest in a tattered cassock, reverently saying the Latin Mass in beautiful yet simple robes, can probably, on a general basis, do a lot more good than a man in a fancy cassock, being addressed as “Monsignor.” That is what Savonarola fought for – I stand for it too. 🙂

  2. It has never been forbidden to turn a title down.

    If one wants to, fine. There will always be such. At the same time, not everyone is Savonarola, and many will always need to have some people brought to their attention as particularly worthy.

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