The honorary title has become more rare than in the past and denotes a special honorary clerical status.
What does it mean?
Historically speaking the title “Monsignor,” “Monsignore” or “Monseigneur” (“My lord”) was used to call most members of high ecclesial rank. For example, cardinals and bishops were often addressed by the name “Monseigneur” and this continues to be true in some languages.
Over time the usage became restricted to, as the Catholic Encyclopedia points out, “those who, by virtue of some distinction bestowed upon them, belong as it were to the family and the retinue of the Holy Father.”
These priests are now known as the “Papal Household,” and the honorary title of Monsignor essentially refers to priests who have certain privileges and maintain a special closeness to the pope. They are higher in symbolic rank than ordinary priests, but lower in Holy Orders than bishops.
For many years the local bishop would suggest names to the Holy Father for this title, usually priests older than 35 who had been priests for more than 10 years.
However, early on in Pope Francis’ pontificate he changed the qualifications for the honorary title of Monsignor and raised the age limit to 65.
In most cases Monsignor is simply a title that expresses many years of dedication in priestly ministry, and recognizes a priest’s many accomplishments in the service of the Lord.
Support Aleteia takes a minute
If you’re reading this article, it’s precisely thanks to your generosity and to that of many other people like you that make possible the evangelization project of Aleteia. Here some numbers:
- 20 million of users around the world read Aleteia.org every month.
- Aleteia is published daily in eight languages: French, English, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Slovenian.
- Each month, our readers view more than 50 million pages.
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia’s social media pages.
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos.
- All of this work is carried out by 60 people working full-time and approximately 400 other collaborators (writers, journalists, translators, photographers…).
As you can imagine, behind these numbers there is a big effort. We need your support so we can keep offering this service of evangelization to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.
Support Aleteia from as little as $1 – and only takes a minute. Thank you!