Is this a “real” reform?

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Vatican Insider reports that Pope Francis has abolished the conferral of the Pontifical Honor of “Monsignor” on secular priests under the age of 65. The only Pontifical Honor conferred will be that of “Chaplain to His Holiness,” namely, “worthy priests” who exceed 65 years of age. The Pope’s decision is not retroactive, however. Thus, Monsignors who have not yet reached the age of 65 will not lose their honor, title, and better yet, the red buttons, piping, and cuffs on their cassocks, and  fuchsia sash (that is, if they wear cassocks).

The Pope’s objective is to “reform the clergy” and “eliminate careerism” in the Catholic Church.

Many on the Catholic left will hail the move and acclaim it as a positive step in declericalizing the Church, building as it does on Pope Paul VI’s reform in the area of ecclesiastical titles following in the wake of Vatican II.

It took almost 1600 years for many of those honors and titles to creep into the Vatican bureaucracy. Today, they represent a style of Church and ministry that Pope Francis apparently disdains. It’s one many people across the globe also resent. Some say “It’s a Church that Jesus wouldn’t recognize as his own.”

The Motley Monk doesn’t view this “reform” in itself as a positive step. While reforming the clergy and eliminating careerism in the Catholic Church are important and worthy objectives, consider who now bears the brunt of the burden of reform for all of those careerists: the extraordinary, hardworking Father Joe Schlub.

This isn’t a “real” reform. It’s boasts a patina of reform, but doesn’t strike to the heart of the Pope’s real objective: clericalism and careerism in the Catholic Church.

Want real reform?

For a starter, as a bishop and cardinal, Pope Francis asked people to call him “Father,” convinced that this title best reflects the mission entrusted to priests, bishops, and cardinals. Indeed, the Pope is called “Holy Father.” Why not strip future bishops, archbishops, and cardinals of their formal titles (“Your Grace,” “Excellency,” and “Eminence”) and specialized clerical daily apparel that sets them apart from the others (meaning, ordinary Fr. Joe Schlubs). Why should they not also be called “Father” to reflect better their mission as bishops and cardinals? Why should they not also wear typical priestly garb?

Then, too, how about “term limits” for the Vaticanista careerists? Have “Father” work in the Vatican for a specified period of time that can be renewed if necessary and, then, return home to live with the sheep and start smelling like them again.

Now that’s real reform!

Pope Francis first set the personal standard for reform: He wears shoes that practically anyone can purchase at Walmart, has moved out of the Apostolic Palace into an apartment in a hotel, scuttled his Mercedes Benz limousine in favor of a Volkswagen limousine, and drives a 1984 Renault 4 to shuttle about town. Nine months later, the Pope is undertaking a reform of the clergy and the elimination of careerism in the Church.

However, it’s a reform that starts “from the bottom-up.” While Pope Francis himself “walks the talk,”  those working for the Pope also need to “walk the talk.”  Reforming the upper levels of Church management first would send a clear and unambiguous message to the world that the ordained priesthood in all of its dimensions is not a matter of titles, positions and roles, or apparel of honor but of service to the Church.

The ordinary Fr. Joe Schlubs who desire to become careerists will get the message real fast.


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  1. Authentic Monsignors live the Person of Christ crucified more perfectly than some other priests and are recognized for their holiness in attaining “oneness with Jesus Christ”. Your Excellency, Your Grace, and Your Eminence acknowledge that the priest is the personification of these titles which are accomplished through totalitarian love for God. Of course whether or not a priest has acknowledgement is superfluous if the priest is holy, but it is nice for the laity to know and recognize to whom they might go to become holier. Distinctions are made and are necessary for those people who are searching for Christ in earnest, while those who could care less to find the path to holiness are dismantling the signs and monsignors of the church.

  2. At the time of the Second Vatican Council, a similar proposal was made by the German bishops’ conference that “Your Grace” and “Your Excellency” should be discontinued. The Archbishop of Cologne was heard to remark, “I’m still trying to stop people calling me Herr Kurfürst” [Prince-Elector]

  3. Why not strip future bishops, archbishops, and cardinals of their formal titles (“Your Grace,” “Excellency,” and “Eminence”) and specialized clerical daily apparel that sets them apart from the others (meaning, ordinary Fr. Joe Schlubs).

    Given what has happened in the Church in recent decades, in the English speaking world in the last dozen years, and in the last year, some of us might be tempted by a franchise to refer to ecclesiastical brass as “Your Douchiness”.

  4. It is a curious reform, for the Pope to remove from his arsenal the means to
    reward and encourage priests who are examples for their fellows. Wouldn’t it
    make more sense for the Holy Father to reserve the honor for those priests
    who exemplify the sort of service he is looking for? Instead, he simply does away
    with the honor altogether.

    It’s as though the Boy Scouts, in order to underscore the need for a good scout
    to be humble, eliminated the rank of Eagle Scout. Would that really be a
    positive step?

  5. This reminded me of a particular Maronite Preist at the local Maronite Catholic Church who was elevated to Monsignor in his 40’s. He gave good sermons and seemed to have a real connection with the youth at Mass.

    After a few years away from this Parish, I attended Mass at another Church he was at.

    He would get quite cranky at the young people wearing singlets and shorts to Mass, and the girls wearing short skirts. Mass was abit of a fashion parade. And I was happy he spoke up about it.

    But he also used to tell young married couples that if they were using the contraceptive pill, it was ok. It was their choice within the marriage. Hmmmm.

    And I also know he liked to ring up the Catholic book store ahead of time, and ask to have it closed for his own personal shopping time. Hmmmm

    Maybe a Monsignor at too young an age? I don’t know.

  6. The grand show of eating baloney sandwiches, wearing five dollar
    shoes, sleeping in a cramp hotel room, and riding in an old VW,
    does not impress me. Pope Francis’ radical egalitarianism is very
    alarming. And this is just the beginning.

    I miss Pope Benedict!

  7. Two points: first, I think making “monsignor” more sparing will make it more meaningful and beautiful for the church. In Latin America, where I grew up (and so did Pope Francis), monsignor is a big deal. You may have heard that there’s more cardinals in Italy, Europe and the United States than in places like Latin America, Africa and Asia. As a result, in those parts of the world “monsignor” is the honorific reserved for archbishops and very well respected clerics. I grew up in El Salvador where Monsignor Oscar Romero loomed large and seemed to have proprietary rights over the honorific–because it was so rare (Google “Monseñor” and half the results will be about Romero). When I came to the U.S., I was shocked that my “insignificant” parish priest was a monsignor, simply because he was a “First World” citizen. Second, to Franco’s point: I think you may be the only Catholic in the planet who doesn’t realize that Pope Benedict is totally in synch with what Francis is doing. In fact, Pope Benedict gave up the red shoes, the papal apartments, and the pope mobile even before Pope Francis, and set the stage for a papacy that does not relish power or prestige, and prefers modesty and simplicity over pomp and grandeur. In fact, Francis is doing only what naturally follows given the example of his last three predecessors, including Pope Benedict. Think about it, Paul VI gave up the tiara, John Paul I gave up the sedia gestatoria, John Paul II gave up the mozetta and other vestments, but Benedict gave up the papacy. In that sequence, the *ONLY* logical next step was Pope Francis.

  8. Carlos X,
    I like Benedict ( excepting his pacifism on the death penalty, on herem, on the OT prophets…see sect.42 Verbum Domini and ccc 2267) especially after seeing a video of him with prison inmates in Italy which had some of them in tears and cheering him as he left in an expensive limousine. But he was not egalitarian in monetary matters. He probably still has his 28K book collection and grand piano and late in his papacy commissioned a personal fragrance. He gave up the papal apartment not as self abnegation but as a consequence of a decision entirely distinct from that giving up…ie he determined that he was too debilitated agewise to remain an active Pope who could prevent leaks and infighting around him while being Pope to everyone in the world.

  9. Carlos X, “The only Pontifical Honor conferred will be that of “Chaplain to His Holiness,” namely, “worthy priests” who exceed 65 years of age.” I believe Pope Francis has removed the title of “Monsignor” from all priests, forever.
    bill bannon, “I like Benedict ( excepting his pacifism on the death penalty ” There is the matter of separation of church and state and Pope Benedict’s private and public life.“ From John Henry Cardinal Newman: “It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine, the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the divine revelation, and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the Creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the divine law, and by the constitution of the Church. Lastly, he is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.”
    Capital punishment belongs to the domain of civil society. (The human soul belongs in the domain of the priestly society. The criminal is to be subject to the law. The innocent is to be heir to all endowed freedom) Priests do not and cannot ban capital punishment.
    As a private person, the Pope may cherish those things that bring him happiness. In Deut. 14:26,27 we are told to make merry before the Lord. It may not be scandal for the Pope to not wear red shoes or tiaras no matter what they are intended to mean as long as the Pope remains faithful to Christ. And it is for the innocent soul, the pure of heart, to make merry before the Lord. When Pope Francis wears Wal-Mart shoes, he does not wear them as the Vicar of Christ, but as Bergoglio. All that the Pope and the Vatican is is held in trust for all future generations.
    (and this is why the Sodomites can never be gay, only pretenders in a court of law)

  10. Mary De Voe,
    Popes can do damage at the non dogmatic yet definition level as in a catechism and Newman knew this in his “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine”.
    Here are Pope Benedict’s words in section 42 of Verbum Domini: “In the Old Testament, the preaching of the prophets vigorously challenged every kind of injustice and violence, whether collective or individual, and thus became God’s way of training his people in preparation for the Gospel.”
    The statement simply is not true. There are prophetic verses against inter Jewish, often class violence (Jer.22:3, Eze.45:9, and Micah 6:12 “you rich men are full of violence”) but the prophets were not against all violence.
    Elijah killed 552 men minimum (I Kgs.18:40 e.g.); Eliseus was mandated by God to kill those who escaped the sword of Jehu ( I Kgs.19:17); the prophet Samuel killed Agag since Saul did not do so as ordered by God; and Jeremiah says to the Chaldeans (Jer.48:10) that they must kill the Moabites with precision: ” Cursed are they who do the LORD’s work carelessly,
    cursed those who keep their sword from shedding blood.”

    The above is the least of three of his pacifist rooted mistakes in the non infallible realm of the ordinary papal magisterium which can err even in morals if you read ” Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” by Ludwig Ott ( see Intro, par. prior to last section)…the go-to dogmatic treatise for priests in the mid twentieth century. Benedict in VD sect.42 also stated that the OT massacres were immoral and ergo not from God which is news to Joshua and Wisdom 12 and news to Christ who announced the worst one…70 AD…1 million perhaps killed.
    And news to Aquinas who wrote: ” But in the neighboring cities which had been promised to them, all were ordered to be slain, on account of their former crimes, to punish which God sent the Israelites as executor of Divine justice…” ST/ 1stPt.of the 2nd Pt. / quest.105/ art.3/ reply to obj.4.

  11. bill bannon: Popes act in persona of their own persons as faithful. In a court of law one acts pro se: for oneself. I see your point.
    “In the Old Testament, the preaching of the prophets vigorously challenged every kind of injustice and violence, whether collective or individual, and thus became God’s way of training his people in preparation for the Gospel.” The statement simply is not true. The statement is true if read as God’s way of training his people…” It has long been obvious that the Israelites were the only nation who did not practice human sacrifice, devil worship by sacrificing their children to Moloch. Annihilating these nations and their wickedness is bearing witness to the True God. Samuel said to Agag: “As your sword has made women childless, so your mother shall be childless.” and he (Samuel) hacked him (Agag) into pieces.
    Guilt and bloodguilt. In the principle of separation of church and state, Pope John Paul II forgave his assassin. I cannot forgive Pope John Paul II’s assassin without becoming an accessory after the fact of the crime. I am the state and must prosecute the criminal. The Pope, the priest, the Levite may not execute capital punishment. They have taken a vow to pray always and they belong to God in a permanent way. We would have had no child abuse if priests had kept their vow to pray always.
    Pope Benedict was speaking for himself. “Benedict in VD sect.42 also stated that the OT massacres were immoral and ergo not from God which is news to Joshua and Wisdom 12 and news to Christ who announced the worst one…70 AD…1 million perhaps killed.” It would have been “immoral and not from God” for Benedict, as Pope, to partake in the massacres, even in wishful thinking. Isn’t this why Liberation Theology” is wrong, because the priest has promised to pray always, and chasing after bad guys is the sheriff’s job. Jesus was sacrificed to appease the Romans in Pax Romana, as well as the High Priests, who ought to have been praying always. Bloodguilt caused the massacre of 70 AD and Roman soldiers did it. I hope I have not confused you more.

  12. bill bannon: “Peace….we differ.” If you read my first comment you know I believe what Pope Francis did will not make the church better. In fact, I believe that it is in continuance of decimating the Friars of the Immaculate. Carlos says: “I was shocked that my “insignificant” parish priest was a monsignor, simply because he was a “First World” citizen.” This is probably what Pope Francis may believe. “…because he, the priest, was a “First World” citizen” is a bunch of hogwash. Holiness constitutes holiness. A holy priest is a Monsignor if he is holy, not if he fits another’s description of holy.
    Pope John Paul II can forgive my murderer, but only if my murderer wills to have contrition and repentance in the Sacrament of Penance, otherwise, Pope John Paul II is violating my free will and the virtue of Justice, unless Pope John Paul II was inviting my murderer into confession.
    People waited in line for two weeks to have Padre Pio hear their confession. Padre Pio did not make monsignor status, but he did make sainthood.

  13. What an important reform Pope Francis has enacted! No more monsignors! We are all better off for it! Well, no, not really.

    What a waste of time this exercise is. The Lavender Mafia, the Vatican Bank, the encroachment of the Culture of Death, militant and radical Islam all are problems, and Pope Francis gets rid of an honorific.

    If he were to offer to resign and return to Buenos Aires, I think I would mortgage my house and empty my 401K to pay for his plane ticket back.

    As each week passes, the rest of the world’s Catholic faithful understands better why the Church in Latin America is in such a mess and so many Catholics leave to join Protestant churches.

  14. Franco,

    Somehow I don’t think the “grand show” (its funny you call it that) of the Pope eating Baloney sandwiches and wearing “Walmart” shoes has anything to do with impressing Franco.

    Did you ever consider he does these things because he personally feels comfortable this way? Not because it riles up Franco and make him Pine for Pope Benedict (he is Emeritus by the way, if we’re in the business of accuracy).

    And since when was “expensive taste” an indicator of a good Holy Pope? I must have missed the memo on that one.

    I hope you don’t pinch your nose every time you pass a beggar in the street.

  15. The “reform” of not naming monsignors is only window dressing of some kind. I don’t know why he did that, doesn’t make sense to me.

    I also want to respond to B Bannon. I certainly agree that “Popes can do damage at the non dogmatic yet definition level ..” but I don’t think Cardinal Ratizinger in Verbum Domini is an example of that. (that part of Verbum Domini that the “prophets challenged every type of injustice and violence…” )
    In my reading of that sentence, the word injustice is related to the word violence. I use the term violence to refer to something that is unjust… In our converstions violence that is seen as reasoned and protective, self defense etc is not generally referred to as violence, like in just war.

    Of course Benedict XVI knew about all those events of the OT that you mention. I think in Verbum Domini he was talking about the unjust violence, or violence not sanctioned by God. He is not calling out God. OT is clear about purging evil from our midst, even by violent means. Justifiable violence responds to something that is out of the God’s order of peace.

    Benedict XVI has demonstrated in his other writings that proportional just violence is sometimes necessary, as he has admitted to the need for protection from unjust aggression…see his interview with Vatican Radio after the 9/11 attacks. He came across to me as much more thoughtful and measured in his speech and writings than our current pope.

  16. Anzlyne,
    Fr. Raymond Brown was on the Pontifical Biblical Commission under the John Paul II/ Ratzinger regime.
    Neither man found Brown dangerous. Read “Birth of the Messiah” by Raymond Brown. He says that Mary never said the magnificat but that Luke put it in her mouth to make the passage reminiscent of the OT. He says there was no slaughter of the innocents at Christ’s birth because Roman sources don’t mention it…I guess they trump the NT. Now read Verbum Domini slowly again. Benedict mentions no acceptable massacres at all which is needed in your version of what he means and Benedict wants Brown type authors to work their techniques on the massacres: ” we should be aware that the correct interpretation of these passages requires a degree of expertise, acquired through a training that interprets the texts in their historical-literary context.”. See that word “literary”. Benedict is hoping the invasion of Canaan is hyperbolic history….like Brown’s judgement on the slaughter of the innocent.
    Both John Paul and Benedict said sane things about just war when younger and perhaps later when pressed.
    But John Paul by advanced old age warned coalition forces against taking back invaded Kuwait from Hussein which was hardly the John Paul who worked with half Catholic Reagan who apprised John Paul on Russian troop movements near Poland. By 1999 John Paul was calling the death penalty ” cruel” despite God having given over 30 of them in the Scriptures personally…and Benedict thanked the president of the Phillipines for outlawing the death penalty there when she visited Benedict after he entered the papacy.
    Both Popes were conservative on morals …but not in later life on just violence ( both said war solves nothing then) nor were they conservative on biblical scholarship despite both men warning about excesses of modern biblical scholarship. Both men allowed Brown on the Pontifical Biblical Commission and Brown was the apex of what they warned about.
    Francis supports their de facto in reality anti death penalty position. I suspect not one of them knows that six of the worst murder rate countries on earth out of the first 22 or so…are Catholic dominated countries with no death penalty. Brazil and Mexico, our two largest population centers, are each 50 times more murderous than death penalty Japan and 25 times more dangerous than death penalty China who has many poor people as does the Catholic continent.

  17. Ez

    How kind of you to respond to my post.

    My point is to contrast the pope’s condemnation of Catholics’, particularly
    traditional Catholics, unhealthy “obsession” with abortion, gay marriage
    contraception and the “disjointed multitude of doctrines”, which, in the
    opinion of the pope, threatens the Church’s existence, with his healthy
    obsession to identify with the poor. Perhaps, you agree with the pope
    that having a baloney sandwich with a poor person is a greater moral
    obligation than employing the Church’s moral authority to end the
    killing of the unborn and to defend the foundation of a normal, healthy
    civil society, Holy Matrimony, from the diabolical perversion of gay

    Maybe you believe that in solidarity with the poor, the pope should have
    traveled to Brazil by a canoe than by the comfort of a jumbo jet.

  18. Now you’ve done it : ) You threw in the dreaded Raymond Brown… just the name opens so many worries in my heart. I can neither defend nor judge our popes, and I don’t understand why Brown has been given so much credit. I know someone who knew him and has told me how nice and charming and humble, but when I see his photo I get a chill.
    I have no idea why wonderful people like the two popes you mention seemed to accept him, or for that matter why they have accepted so much of the so called bible scholarship of the last 200 years. (the whole holey JEPD theory is a theory)
    So you think they just over intellectualized the miraculous? They may have just been such intellectuals and wanted not to stultify discussion of bible study, to remain open-minded. I certainly can’t judge those two popes— way over my head, but they were used to ivory tower talk and a strong self confident intellectual bible scholar like R. Brown gave them food for thought about the historicity of those events. They had been through the War and also through the seminaries and hierarchy and I am sure what they were in an honest search for the truth, and to look at it without blinking. The other part being both of their experiences with war making them so desire peace. Anyway I can’t put B16 scholarly forays in the same category somehow with some of the seemingly almost accidental comments we have discussed on Popewatch. His Erasmus lecture put the historical criticism in a better perspective.

  19. Well, as long as he maintains the hermeneutic of continuity, and doesn’t mess with us deacons, I’m quite happy with him. 🙂

  20. No Franco, I am pro-life. I did pregnancy counselling for a Right to Life phone counselling service for over 7 years.

    Why does it have to be one or the other?

    What makes relating to the poor so immoral?

    It was the foundation of Christ Teachings. Read the Beatitudes.

    Don’t so called “traditional Catholicism” (whatever that means these days) prescribe to helping the poor?

    When did the Pope have a baloney sandwich with a poor person? I missed that one,

    When was he planning on travelling to Brazil in a canoe? I have a great mental image of that giving me a belly laugh right now. I can just imagine the Security Staff behind him.

    The Pope is Pro-life, anti-gay “marriage” and anti-contraception. Clearly stated. Numerous times.

    Why does a Catholic need to be reminded of that?

    What’s wrong if the Pope stops beating that very obvious drum and remind us to tend to those less fortunate?

    I commented in response to your statement :

    “The grand show of eating baloney sandwiches, wearing five dollar
    shoes, sleeping in a cramp hotel room, and riding in an old VW,
    does not impress me. Pope Francis’ radical egalitarianism is very
    alarming. And this is just the beginning.

    I miss Pope Benedict!”

    Your statement indicates to me an inaccurate and over-inflated attitude about the Pope. You don’t like him because his personal taste isn’t good enough for you- in your own words “doesn’t impress you”. Fair enough- that’s your opinion. I think you expressed it harshly.

  21. Mary de Voe wrote, “Padre Pio did not make monsignor status…”

    The title is never conferred on religious priests

  22. Anzlyne,
    The new exegetical schools have value in some areas but are easily misused in other areas. Why is all the bragging about John the beloved disciple only in John’s gospel and not in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Brown gives a great answer in a little book he wrote which I kept. But I threw his “Birth of the Messiah” in the garbage so that no one would ever read it in our family. When I found out that Benedict did not feel it necessary that God gave the stone tablets to Moses, I knew he and I were on a different page as to the hyperbole routine. I can go with a local flood in Genesis ( the dove after all returns with a dry twig after only 7 days flight wait…they reached the edge of the flood) …but don’t touch the stone tablets with demythologizing
    techniques. Image is weak with us laity but strong with the Vatican since the TV in the 50’s….hence Rome caved to the liberal world where she could…wifely obedience ( absent in the catechism) and the death penalty and letting Hussein have Kuwait according to the elder John Paul who warned of dire consequences if we opposed Iraq. Then we next watched serial surrendering of Iraqis on tv in the desert in the mother of all wars
    ( Hussein’s warning…similar to John Paul’s).

  23. Thank you for this beautiful blog from Donald R. McClarey, to Anzlyne, to bill bannon, to Michael Paterson-Seymour, to Don the Kiwi, to Alphatron, to EZ, to Penguins Fan, to Art Deco and all the others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am and have learned so much.
    “Padre Pio did not make monsignor status…” The title is never conferred on religious priests.”
    Thank you for that, Michael Paterson-Seymour. The secular priest keeps his own name and therefore the title “Monsignor” designates his spiritual holiness, whereas the religious priest takes a religious name, a patron saint to designate his path to holiness.
    I am afraid that what AS says: “I fear that all he has done by this is change the nature of careerism in the Church. And not for the better.” is true as the title of this blog states: “real reform?” Anzlyne’s and bill bannon’s exchange is wonderful. I have found that the Holy Scripture is true on all levels. The damage is done by isolating one kind of interpretation as “nothing but the truth” leaving the literal, the poetic, the historical, and the rest, when all are necessary. It is that we have finite minds. Yes, and I have thought about the edge of the flood. Loch Ness is a flood. Mount Ararat, where the Ark is supposedly found is on a mountain, where the flood deposited it. There would be a flood in the valley below the mountain and with an edge.
    The death penalty is self-defense on a community and personal level. The victim must be vindicated or the state will have sanctioned her being murdered. Literally, the victim’s life must be taken back by the state for the victim to rest in peace and for the murderer to find his own soul and salvation. The murderer must expire with grief over the commission of homicide or his contrition is imperfect. Capital punishment must remedy the soul of the murderer. I was one of those persons who wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to have the Catechism of the Catholic Church revised after the death penalty was inscribed as “practically non-existent.” The executioner acts in persona of the murderer, the victim, the state, and of God’s Divine and Perfect Justice.

  24. bill bannon: God bless and keep you. I will read every word from Shepherd. Now, about “wifely obedience”. St. Paul, so maligned said: “Husbands love your wives. Wives be submissive to your husbands” and the rest about the husband is the head of the wife etc. forgive me I do not have the correct piece, but what is most important is that husbands and wives are addressed as a family and not as men and women. Men and women are equal in sovereignty. Husbands and wives occupy a blessed union to which they have given informed consent (without which, they are not husbands and wives, without which they are not married at all) and free will to become and attain this office, for it is an office, a vocation from God. Husbands and wives serve God, as husbands and wives love and obey (their vows at the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony) each other. Yes, they are men and women to all people, but they are also a special vocation to each other as husband and wife, office and title, with special graces and duties, after love comes sacrifice called obedience or submissiveness, without which there can be no cohesive family in which to bring forth another sovereign being. Think about it. A woman cannot grow another arm or leg, yet she can grow another human being.
    In the same manner that a newly begotten human being, endowed with sovereign personhood from the very first moment of existence makes a mother of a woman and a father of a man and constitutes a sovereign nation of his country.
    Very much like Monsignor is a title to signify a vocation, a calling to holiness to one degree or another, not the same, but a vocation from God.
    God renews the face of the earth.

  25. “( Hussein’s warning…similar to John Paul’s).” but for very different reasons, I suspect, since God has always used Assyria to punish Israel. Has one ever noticed that Israel’s flag has Blessed Mother’s blue and white colors with a Davidic star?

  26. “He says there was no slaughter of the innocents at Christ’s birth because Roman sources don’t mention it…”
    Then why would an angel tell St. Joseph to take Mary and the Child and flee into Egypt? and why would Rachel be wailing for her children, because they are no more? and why would the Three Kings depart by a different way if King Herod was not about killing all children about the age of two years? King Herod was not Roman, why should there be notes in the Roman history of the Holy Innocents? This Raymond Brown has tunnel vision.

  27. Raymond Brown sounds like the Jesus Seminar. Can’t prove WHERE Jesus said the Lord’s prayer means that Jesus did not say the Lord’s prayer. Discarding the four Evangelists and their Gospels, the true witnesses to Christ, leaves us at the mercy of this kind of isogesis. In this day and age for such a charlatan to emerge as a scholar is dumbfounding…and then there is Carl Rogers and the Brooklyn Bridge.

  28. Ez

    You presented me with a number of silly questions. Nevertheless, I’ll
    respond to some of them.

    “Why does it have to be one or the other?” Ask the pope, not me. I didn’t
    condemn Catholics for their obsession with abortion, gay marriage,
    contraception, etc.

    “What makes relating to the poor so immoral?” That’s your opinion. I never
    said relating to the poor is immoral However, the Left often uses the poor as
    a weapon to portray their opponents as immoral and mean.

    “Why does a Catholic need to be reminded of that (abortion, gay marriage,
    contraception, etc)?” That question says a lot about your understanding
    of the day’s great moral issues. We live in a very immoral and anti-
    Christian society.

    “What’s wrong if the pope stops beating that very obvious drum and reminds
    us to tend to the less fortunate?” There is nothing wrong with the pope reminding
    us to help the unfortunate. But the pope has condemned that “very obvious drum”,
    and will not tolerate the discussion of any other social issue, particularly if it
    suggests a traditional point of view.

    Further, I do not dislike the pope, nor do I dislike his tastes in shoes, food, room
    accommodation, and cars. I just disagree with conspicuous humility.

    Also, my remarks are as harsh as the language used by the pope to
    condemn traditional Catholics. However, if my remarks were found
    to be offensive, I apologize.

    Perhaps, your dream of a modern, progressive and inclusive church where
    gays can marry, where sin is ignored and mocked, where the outdated
    sacraments of confession and holy matrimony are discarded and where
    morality is condemned as a myth of a forgotten time in history will come true.

  29. My silly questions were in response to your ridiculous assumptions.

    You make claims you choose not to backup with facts. Canoes and Baloney sandwiches…? You’re a good story-teller.

    A “progressive” Church….what on earth is that? The Church is the community of the Body of Christ on Earth. ALL are invited. Her Teachings are unshakable. Don’t play politics.

    Conspicuous humility is called setting an example. I do it everyday to my young children. It seems to me you present a streak of Envy towards the Pope on this matter.

    People struggling with same-sex attraction should be included in the Church. People struggling with the sin of a past abortion should be included. People who do not yet fully understand the Church teaching on Contraception, but trying, are part of the Body of Christ.

    I’m not an idiot Franco, as you imply. I am very aware of the great moral issues of our time.

    The only way to combat abortion is to help on the front-line- counsel women who are facing a “crisis” pregnancy.

    The only way to combat the rampant use of Contraception is to practice NFP and help others gain knowledge of its practise. And to welcome children.

    The only way to fight same-sex marriage is through your vote and prayer.

    The Pope banging the drum on these will not stop these sins. The Pope did not listen to the past two Pontiffs either.

    So Franco, perhaps your assumptions of “people like me” need to be reassessed. Perhaps a jump off the morale high-horse once in a while. And get into the trenches.

    I’m glad the Pope is shaking your comfortable cage. But spiteful comments against his style don’t help.

  30. “Discarding the four Evangelists and their Gospels”

    As Mgr Ronald Knox wrote

    “Yet, left some envious Critick might complain
    The BIBLE had been jettisoned as vain,
    Pellucid JABBOK
    Show’d us, how much more
    The Bible meant to us than e’er before.
    Twelve Prophets our unlearn’d forefathers knew,
    We are scarce satisfy’d with twenty-two :
    A single Psalmist was enough for them,
    Our Lift of Authors rivals A. & M.
    They were content MARK, MATTHEW, LUKE & JOHN
    Should bless th’old-fashion’d Beds they lay upon :
    But we, for ev’ry one of theirs, have two,
    And trust the Watchfulness of blessed Q.”

  31. yes! wonderful- thank you Michael P-S. That brought me a smile. We are so blessed by Msgr Knox and so many others who like him who saw straight and were able to still have a sense of humor to lighten the weight.
    Wish I had known of him that day I first learned about Q and felt all alone in my classroom.

  32. I agree with Pope Francis’ action regarding monsignors, but I would go further. I would drop the title, “monsignor” completely. It is a mere honorific, and it does not denote a specific Order within Holy Orders. Although I would not necessarily drop respectful ways of addressing a Bishop, Archbishop or Cardinal, I would definitely drop the princely cassocks, including the red piping, the red cinctures for their black cassocks, and especially the watered-silk scarlet capes that Cardinals wear. I was once sitting in an Orthodox Church, and a couple of seats down was an Orthodox clergyman. I thought he was a Priest. It turned out he was a Bishop, and the only difference in how he was dressed vis-à-vis a Priest was his engkolpion (icon of the Theotokos hung on a chain around his neck). If Pope Francis wishes simplicity in the Catholic Church, he could well decree simpler dress for Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals in imitation of the Orthodox.

  33. I question his motives, honestly questioning them. The red shoes represented him walking the foot steps of martyrs and not in the footsteps of the world. He could have had red shoes made by his cobbler that he used for years to make the shoes he wears now, but he didn’t. A lack of understanding of the significance of the shoes that’s why. Just like Paul VI gave away the papal tiara, it wasn’t a symbol of his kingdom, but of Christ’s Kingship. He was only the steward giving away his Master’s property. Living in an apartment in a hotel? How is that modest living? Wouldn’t a man, who is the vicar of Christ and His servant, want to be near his Master? Now he is taking away a title of honor away from men who work tirelessly for the Church. It would be like a king taking away the title of knight from his soldiers who fight ferociously in battle to defend the kingdom, or at least until you are old enough. What happens to the soldier who starts off young but fights more courageously than all the other soldiers in the kings army, and continues to do so? Should he not get rewarded with the title of knight? Well that’s what the title of monsignor is to the Church. It is knighthood for those brave soldiers, priests, and it is an acknowledgment from the King’s steward of this soldier. Just like lords and dukes are our bishops and cardinals. That soldier can never be made a lord or duke without first receiving the knighthood of Christ. Ever heard of a priest being raised to the office of bishop?, no but I bet you hear all the time of monsignors being raised to that office all the time. What I think, now this is my own opinion so be patient with me on it now, is that the pope is saying that it is impossible for someone to posses the qualities to be named a bishop unless he is old, forget about the Holy Ghost guiding this man, or soldier of Christ, during the battles of this world. You can not posses wisdom unless you are old, I find that to be insulting.

  34. Fair point David. This action has obviously come across to many in the manner you describe.

    But do you really think these were the Popes intentions when he made this decision?

    How many “young” Bishops do you know anyway. Not many. It’s been like that for a long time.

    I believe the Church is as much about structure and Management as it is about appointing titles to those deemed good servants of the Church. I don’t believe, personally, that its a measure of holiness just because you posess the title of Monsignor, Bishop, Cardinal. Many great saints were “just” Preists.

    I actually think the insight the Pope has, from his own seat, informs his decisions. From our point of view, it could come across as stifling the good. But I really believe, this is not his intention. What would he gain from “holding back” a good Preist?

    Again, its all about appointing good stewards, managers and leaders. And if it sends a message that the title has to be earned, and earned with great effort and sacrifice, then I don’t see anything wrong with the Popes decision. Just my two cents.

  35. Ez

    At one time, quite young men were appointed as bishops. Cardinal Richelieu became bishop of Luçon at 23 and it was his energy and efficiency in managing his see that brought him to the King’s notice.

    The Cardinal Duke of York received the red hat at the same age. He was a Cardinal for 59 years.

  36. I do agree with the point that maybe there should be a change in the hierarchy more than at the ground level. Those are the ones who effect the people and the faith the most. But so far he is all about giving up tradition and that is not something I want to see go. Oh sure it looks like he is being humble in the things he is doing, but look at the big picture as a whole. Washing the feet of women and most importantly a Muslim woman, someone who doesn’t even share our faith and has no idea what the purpose of the feet washing was; he did all that instead of the traditional washing the feet of the clergy, just as Christ did at the last supper. I’m sorry if people see it as a good thing but I wonder in what direction he is leading the Church with all the doing away with tradition that he is doing. Will we recognize the Her in the next 10 years or will it be even more drastic of a change like Vatican II was that She won’t even be the same for people to know She is Christ’s Bride or if She is even beautiful because we stripped Her of Her beauty?

  37. Actually there have been many. Some have been really great bishops, while others seem to be really fat and lazy and are doing nothing to promote the faith in their dioceses. I mean nothing!

  38. Clericalism is not just about clerics looking for recognition and advancement, but as I recall, also about clerics (and lay people) seeing themselves elevated above the laity.
    There’s just inherent risks in communication, We have to be careful to understand meaning of words and labels on deeper levels than what first might strike the ear. Look at the title Curé,as people affectionately remember Father Vianney. The generation after the Reign of Terror. Was that title given him by his bishop? I don’t think so. I think it was a recognition, given by clerics and lairty both– because of his recognizable holiness. I think that is how the term monsignor developed before it became just a recognition of the diocesan hierarchy.
    Jesus didn’t claim titles like messiah or christ. remember the gospel of Mark 10 where Jesus asks “why do you call me good, no one is good by God”. We have to think he did not mean that we shouldn’t call anyone good, but he was wanting his listener to dig deeper. What did the questioner mean by “Good rabbi” The intent of the speaker was what Jesus was looking at I think.
    When the leper prostrated himself before Jesus, Jesus accepted the humble obeisance and sent the man away healed without questioning why do you fall down before me?
    I think the pope is just trying to make us all think more deeply about many things.

  39. Anzlyne

    M. le Curé is the ordinary French term for the pastor of a parish.

    M. l’abbé is the title of a diocesan priest (from the Hebrew, Abba = father) Père is used of religious priests and Dom (from Latin Dominus = Lord) for monastic priests (like Dom Perignon, prominent in the development of champagne). In Italy, a similar distinction is made, with Don being the title of diocesan priests and Padre of religious ones. Don is really the equivalent of English ‘squire and, in the Southern Italy, it is still used, as a mark of respect, of other prominent people, besides priests.

    There used to be a similar practice in England. Bl John Henry Newman once corrected a Birmingham journalist, who addressed him as “Father Newman,” “Dr Newman, if you please, I’m not a regular.”

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