Goodbye, Monsignori?

Monsignor = My Lord.

The word is out: the title is on hold, maybe for a while.

No more lords, and excising one layer of ecclesial aristocracy? Maybe that’s good. Maybe really good.

That said, the finest priest for whom I ever worked was a Msgr. I think the honor was bestowed when he was way up in the chancery before I met him. If anyone deserved a title, it was that guy.

In Kansas City, much was made of a handful of new monsignors under Bishop Finn–the first in decades. One priest friend of mine noted a notable exclusion, pointed perhaps because the particular man had been a fine pastor and loyal chancery official, but perhaps not ideologically aligned with the new bishop.

I got to know Fr Dick Carney in his retirement, long after his time as a “difficult” priest. I understood he was a recovering alcoholic, and had settled into a life as a gentle and deeply spiritual man. I was fortunate to be asked to collaborate with him on a few Centering Prayer experiences.

Do titles like this divide the clergy, create rifts and such? They are not from the Lord Jesus, certainly. Aristocracy: we don’t need it.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Goodbye, Monsignori?

  1. John McGrath says:

    Monsignor = My Lord. But then Monsieur/Mister is a version of My Lord too.

  2. This is interesting news. In my diocese there are no monsignors to my knowledge. Perhaps retired? I don’t think so; and none have been elevated.

  3. Liam says:

    I actually have no problem with the title when used for those in the Vatican Curia or diplomatic service: I’d much rather that, as a civil service honorific, than elevating men to be bishops and archbishops for such posts when they are not shepherding an actual flock.

  4. Jim McCrea says:

    I always struck me as an “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” title for those who weren’t going to make the cut for bishop, but who were perennial also-rans.

  5. John Donaghy says:

    I think it was Msgr. James Supple – James from Ames, founder of St. Thomas – who shared this story. I don’t have it exactly correct, but you get the gist of his humor.

    How are monsignors like black elder bugs? They wear black with red piping, they stink when they’re crushed, and their hard to get rid of.

    There may be more to that but Msgr Supple who, I think, wore the red monsignor regalia only once – for a portrait – was much more comfortable as James from Ames than Msgr. Supple.

    An aside: Here in Latin America, there are few “monsignors,” though the bishops are often called “Monseñor.”

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