Readers will recall the rather explosive (but very necessary) lecture given recently by the doyen of English Catholic academics, the learned Dominican Fr Aidan Nichols. Parts of it were printed in the Catholic Herald; I do urge readers who are not familiar with it to track that news item down on the Internet (sadly, it appears that the piece will not be made available more widely or in full).
Fr Aidan wrote: "[The Pope's] programme would not have got as far as it has were it not the case that theological liberals, very often of the closet variety, have in the fairly recent past been appointed to high positions both in the world episcopate and in the ranks of the Roman Curia."
Rather divertingly, the '"Mgr" Basil Loftus', about whom I wrote yesterday, says exactly the same, from a diametrically opposed theological standpoint. "Slowly but surely national hierarchies are being transformed by Francis' inspired appointments, just as within the Roman Curia there is a similar shift."
Goodness me. Can it really be quite so obvious that episcopal and curial appointments, under this regime, are made, not on the basis of pastoral, personal or doctrinal excellence, but on the dear old Third World principle of cronyism? Is this what the Pope from the Peripheries has brought us?
11 September 2017
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How language has changed. The etymology of "Monsignor" matches that of "Monsieur" in French. The title was applied to and reserved to gentlemen. Lower classes were addressed by their surnames like pupils in a school. "Sir" would have come from the same etymology. The English use of "Sir" has remained more conservative than the use of "Monsieur" in French now applied to all men including those without standing or authority. The Sulpicians in France used the title "Monsieur" for priests rather than the later "Monsieur l'Abbé" which was an anomaly. When I was at Griciliano, we often used "Monsieur" for the more dapper young priests.
"Father" or "Père" is often used by secular priests and some bishops as a mark of false humility. Bp Loftus seems to be the first example I have heard of using "Monsignor" as a "mark of humility". We live in a strange world!
Just two comments, Father, specifically on how we used to address our priests.
Eamon Duffy in his "Voices of Morebath" tells us that it was normal for priests in England, prior to the Reformation, to be addressed as "Sir". Thus Morebath's quite excellent parish priest, Christopher Trychay, was known as SIR CHRISTOPHER TRYCHAY. Pronounced, apparently "Trickey".
At Ushaw, before the collapse of everything in the 1970's / 1980's, the academic staff (all 40 of them priests) were addressed by students as MR. The theory was that this was in recognition of the fact that in Penal Times priests were unable to be known in public as priests. So, everyone from Mgr Grant (President) down were known as Mr Grant, Mr McReavy, Mr Gowland etc.
Of course, in those days, we were quite proud of our English Martyrs.
Baz Loftus was always a pompous ass. As boys, he and I were at school together...even in the same class! It seems that he hasn't changed.
tells us that it was normal for priests in England, prior to the Reformation, to be addressed as "Sir".
And this usage continued after the reformation (well into the seventeenth century).
By contrast "Mr" indicated a priest with a degree, as he was "Master" by right (Artibus Magister) - unless of course he had proceeded to a doctorate.
"Sir" thus applied (rather oddly to our ears) to the humblest category of clergy (the "literate" rather than the graduate).
Secular priests ought to drop the title of "Father".
We should return to pre-reformation usage.
I think it is Artium Magister.
Both forms exist, and the order of words is sometimes reversed. Artibus is sometimes preceded by the preposition in.
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