As of now, diocesan priests around the world will no longer be able to become a "monsignor” until they turn 65. Under the guidance of Pope Francis, the Secretariat of State communicated the announcement to apostolic nuncios across the world. The move is seen as the latest effort to tackle career clericalism within the Church.
FR. FRANCISCO CASTELLANOS
Archdiocese of Guadalajara (Mexico)
"Since the beginning, the Pope wanted to take away many things that give the Church a bad name. One of those things was this latest change. There were too many priests that, without being bishops, already had the title of monsignor.”
The Vatican said only "worthy priests” over 65 will be eligible for the honor. But the move does not affect those that already have the title.
News of the change spread quickly among clergy in Rome, the heartland of Catholicism. While some priests felt it wouldn't have a big impact, most were still supportive of the change.
DON GIANNI TONI
Diocese of Latina (Italy)
"I think that with the times today, it's useless. It's an old title, from an old mentality. Instead, the real effect is what Pope Francis teaches us: the title doesn't matter, it's what we do and who we are.”
MSGR. CARLOS AZEVEDO
Pontifical Council for Culture
"We need someone who can freely change and bring the Church closer to the Gospel: where the word 'brother' becomes the key word. All titles that divide, or create the idea of a career, are not the truth of the Church. It's a good move.”
To become a monsignor, a largely honorary title, diocesan priests must be nominated by their bishop. The Vatican then accepts or rejects their request.
At one point, the Vatican recognized up to 14 ranks of "monsignor.” But after the Second Vatican Council, only three remained. Under this change, Pope Francis narrowed it down further to just one, Chaplain to His Holiness.