CAN A BISHOP ALSO BE ADDRSSED AS “MONSIGNOR”
In the Catholic Church the title MONSIGNOR (abbreviated, Msgr. or Mons.) is also for a Bishop. So it is actually correct to still address a Bishop…Msgr
“Monsignor”, from it’s Latin word (also written as “Monsignor”) means, “MY LORD”. Thus, it has the same as calling a Bishop…My Lord. It seems, however, that in the English-speaking countries…we usually use “Msgr” for a priest who has been honoured by the Pope…for dedicated service. But that doesn’t mean the title “Msgr” is for such “honoured priests”. It is, first of all, a title for A BISHOP. But we rather give the title (Msgr) to those honoured priests to show our respect for them, to make them, as some put it, “feel big small” to be addressed like a bishop. So, it’s like we “steal” (take) the title of the bishops and use it for those esteemed priests…because of the great works they have also done for the Church (in their dioceses or in some special offices). Simply, we refer to them as “Msgr” as a gesture of honour.
So, “Msgr” is also a title for a bishop. This is why even till today, in the French-speaking countries (like our brothers in neighbouring Togo, Ivory Coast, Benin, etc), when you hear them say “Monseigneur” (same as Monsignor in English), they are referring to A BISHOP…and not a priest who has been honoured by the Pope. It is same with Spanish-speaking and Italian-speaking countries. For them also, “Monsignore” has the meaning of a Bishop.
As I mentioned above, it seems it is those of us in English-speaking countries of the Catholic Church who tend to use/reserve the title “Monsignor” for an honoured priest. All the same, “Monsignor” in the universal Catholic Church is a title, first and foremost, used for a Bishop.
By: Fr. Anthony Agnes Adu-Mensah