Expert Answer Forum

Titles of Religious Persons QUESTION from Timothy M. Brauch August 12, 1999 My summer job is working for my Diocese. One of my duties was working in the mailroom for a week. In doing the mail I noticed many titles given to different people and was wondering what each meant. For example, • Rev. (I assume Reverned) • Rt. Rev. • Rev. Msgr. • Rt. Rev. Msgr. • Very Rev. • Most Rev. (I know that is for a Bishop)
Also, I am curious on how you rise in the ranks from Rev. to the other titles.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on September 4, 1999 Dear Mr. Brauch:
Now that we are back from vacation we can catch up on questions that came in during August. Please excuse the delay in answering your question.
Rev. = Reverend (title given upon Ordination)
Reverend Father is a priest; Reverend Mister is a deacon. Rt. Rev. = Right Reverend (title given when elected abbot/consecrated bishop)
This is a title usually used with abbots who have equivalent rank of bishop, sometimes with bishops.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. = Right Reverend Monsignor referring to a Monsignor of higher rank such as a bishop. All bishops and archbishops have a right to use the title of Monsignor. Rev. Msgr. = Reverend Monsignor (title given when appointed)
Most often Monsignor is an honorary title given by the Pope. They become part of the papal household with titles of Chaplain of His Holiness, Prelate of Honor of His Holiness, or Protonotary Apostolic. Monsignors are entitled to wear distinctive vesture that is similar to a bishop that indicates that they have been given this honor.
Very Rev. = Very Reverend (title given when elected a minor superior (who is also a priest) in a religious community)
title given to prefects who are not bishops such as religious superiors to houses under an abbot. The Very Reverend is below the rank of abbot. Most Rev. = Most Reverend (title given at consecration as Bishop)
I think I have these generally correct.
The Right, Very, and Most are used in different ways in different countries and in the various religious orders.
Other groups, such as the Anglicans and even some Protestants also use these terms or various levels of rank.
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