Pope Francis: No More Monsignors Under 65

January 6, 2014 - 2:02 PM

Pope Francis eliminated the title of "Monsignor" for all secular priests under the age of 65 last week.  The pontiff made the move in an effort to eliminate careerism within the Roman Catholic Church.

The term dates back to the 14th century when the papal court operated for a period of time in Avignon, France, and is French for "my Lord."

Archbishop Antonio Memini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, wrote to all bishops informing them of the pope's decision Thursday.  All priests who currently carry the title "Monsignor" may keep it (If they like their title, they may keep their title).

Sources told National Catholic Reporter that Pope Francis has wanted to scrap the title since last October at the first meeting of the Council of Cardinals.  The council is helping the pope reform the Vatican bureaucracy.

The title is handed out by the pontiff himself, typically at the request of the bishop, for loyalty to the bishop or for distinguished service performed in the diocese.

Currently, there are three grades of "Monsignor": Apostolic Protonotary, Honorary Prelate of His Holiness, and Chaplain of His Holiness.  But, with the change, there will only be one grade, Chaplain of His Holiness, only available to priests over the age of 65.  Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the title had 14 grades, first introduced by Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644).