No more “Father Joe”

No more “Father Joe”

Karen Csengeri, writing in the Adoremus Bulletin, warns that we’ve become to chummy with our priests, especially as evidence by calling them by their first names, even when preceded by “Father.” Now, she’s not saying we shouldn’t be friends with our priests, but that even iin our friendships, certain courtesies should be observed. Priests are our fathers, and just as it’s not appropriate for children to call their parents by their first names, neither should we do so with our spiritual fathers.

  • Interesting, and I’m tending to agree. Most definitely I agree that the title “Father” should always be used in addressing a priest. (Or “Eminent Father” or “Excellent Father” in the case of cardinals and bishops.)

    Here’s an odd thing, though.  The church I go to during the week is staffed by religious order priests and they all go by “Father First Name.” And yet they are far more orthodox than many diocesan priests I know, who are addressed by “Father Last Name.” They also are far more likely to be seen wearing their clerics on the street than are the diocesan priests I know.

    In any case, I do believe that pastors and priests who insist that their parishioners address them by their first names only are doing their parishioners a disservice.

  • So Archbishop Sean is out, eh?

    It is as far as I’m concerned. As is “Bishop Sean.”

    Am I being too conservative on this? Despite what I wrote above, the title “Bishop Sean” and/or “Archbishop Sean” has, since I first heard it, given me the willies.

    It’s just a little too warm and fuzzy for me, frankly.

    But then (I ask myself) what about “Pope John Paul”?

    I’m missing something. Unusual, but there you are. wink


  • Could anyone in the Boston area fathom this one:

    Cardinal Bernie???

    But I have heard him referred to as Bernie by laymen.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever heard him referred to as Bernie by laymen, but I have heard it from priests. I understand the old custom of single named religious (and certain bishops which remains in the Eastern Church), but the operating principle for me is whichever denotes the maximum respect.

    It’s Pope John Paul because that’s his name. It isn’t John Paul Karol Wojtyla. He left K.W. behind when he became Pope.

    I don’t go for Archbishop Sean. I think it degrades the respect due to the office, and that particular office needs all the respect it can get these days.

    If my pastor asked me to call him Father Tim, then I guess I would do so, but only in private, never among a group of parishioners, and it would always have Father preceding it.

    Hey, I would never meet the president and call him George. I wouldn’t even call my senators, as little respect as I have for them as men, Ted or John. If that’s the case with politicians, it’s doubly so with my shepherds.

  • I donfrom me, just a recognition of his actions.

    As for the single name thing, if we were a society that had single names, then it would be appropriate, but this isn’t and it’s not.

  • That is about the weakest retort I’ve ever seen. “Howard’s End” is a movie and it is a headline. Give me a break. And whatever CNS and Ligouri do, it’s not standard journalistic practice. CWR, CWN, OSV, and Associated Press Style Journal all allow both.

    And you’ve strayed from the topic anyway: We’re talking about addressing priests we encounter in person. The point you bring up is a tangent.

    As for insisting on calling a priest “Father (last name)”, a priest is not like “other professionals” which illustrates my point. The priesthood is not simply a career. It is the vocation that places a man in persona Christi. It sets him apart from all others.