How to Address Catholic Clergy

Despite the fact that most western countries have separated religion from politics and affairs of the state, clergy still plays a vital role in Catholic societies. Seekers of religious knowledge have to communicate with clergy on regular basis and addressing them appropriately remains quite confusing for most, as devote Christians want to give clergymen immense respect and honour.

Addressing Catholic clergy depends heavily on the area you are living in, because every place has its own culture and traditions. Titles of clergymen also vary from one place to the other and one must ensure that he or she uses the correct title as clergymen are very particular about it.


  • 1

    Identify the hierarchy

    In order to address the Catholic clergy appropriately, it is imperative that you identify the hierarchy. Identifying the Pope is the easiest as he usually wears a white rob, which is also known as cassock. A Cardinal can be recognised through his red cassock; whereas, a Latin Bishop can be identified due to his red lining, piping and buttons on his black cassock.

  • 2

    Be formal

    A general rule that needs to be followed while addressing Catholic clergy is to remain formal in your conversation as well as outer appearance. You should maintain a smile on your face but laughter needs to be avoided, especially when the priest is addressing.

  • 3

    Address a Bishop

    A Bishop should be formally addressed as ‘His Most Reverend Excellency, (First and Last Name), Bishop of (Location)’. On a paper, he can be addressed as ‘His Excellency, The Most Reverend (First Name and Last Name), Bishop of (Location)’. When a Bishop enters a room, you should stand up in his honour and do not sit until he asks you to do so. In the presence of the Bishop, you should remove your hat and it is recommended that you kiss the sacred ring while greeting him at your arrival as well as departure.

  • 4

    Address a Pope

    In a formal introduction, the Pope needs to be addressed as ‘His Holiness, Pope (name of the Pope)’. In writing, a Pope can be addressed as ‘His Holiness, Pope (Name)’ or ‘The Sovereign Pontiff, His Holiness (name of the Pope)’. In the presence of the Pope, one should be formally dressed.

  • 5

    Address a Sister

    A Sister should be addressed as ‘Sister (first name) of (name of community)’. While addressing her in a letter or an email, it is recommended that you use ‘Reverend Sister (first and last name)’.

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