Titles and Styles of Addressing For Roman Catholic Hierarchy

Noticed that some folks seem to be getting the proper terms mixed up, especially when it comes to titles used for church hierarchy. Some of you may wonder why we need to be so kiasu or gan cheong about such titles, but for the sake of protocol and decorum, we may need to take note lah.

Also, this bit of write-up is not about the difference or similarities between a deacon, priest, bishop, archbishop, cardinal or pope. The differences and similarities would require a different write-up, so see how later. So...


When it comes to non-clergy - those not ordained by the bishop

Sr. - Sister

Br. or Bro. - Brother

Note that strictly speaking, Diocesan seminarians are technically not "br." or "bro." or "brother." We call them as such out of courtesy or politeness, but they are not "br." or "bro." or "brother" because they have not taken any religious vows. Well, some say that the Diocesans are informally and cheekily known as "OOO" (that's Oh... Oh... Oh... or triple "O") - since Diocesans do not belong to a particular Religious Order, so "OOO" = "Out Of Order", but that's a different story ;)

Seminarians, men or women belonging to Religious Orders or Congregations may be called Sr. or Br. or Bro., depending on whether they have taken any religious vows and also depending on the governance of the congregation or order (how the congregation or order is run). In such cases, when it comes to religious orders or congregations, it is best to check with the leader, or superior.


When it comes to clergy

Rev. Deacon - Reverend Deacon

Priest - Rev. Fr. (Reverend Father), or just "Fr", or some may informally say "padre"

Bishop - Rt. Rev. (Right Reverend)

When addressing the Bishop formally and directly, we usually say "Your Lordship"
For example: Your Lordship Bishop ???, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

When addressing the Bishop formally from a third person perspective, we usually say "His Lordship"
For example: We now invite His Lordship Bishop ??? to come forth to give his opening address

Archbishop - Most Rev. (Most Reverend)

When addressing the Archbishop formally and directly, we usually say "Your Grace"
For example: Your Grace Archbishop ???, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

When addressing the Archbishop formally from a third person perspective, we usually say "His Grace"
For example: We now invite His Grace Archbishop ??? to come forth to give his opening address

Cardinal - His/Your Eminence

When addressing the Cardinal formally and directly, we usually say "Your Eminence"
For example: Your Eminence ??? Cardinal ???, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen (for example, Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle)

When addressing the Cardinal formally from a third person perspective, we usually say "His Eminence"
For example: We now invite His Eminence ??? Cardinal ??? to come forth to give his opening address

These are some of the more common titles used when addressing such folks. If you are not sure, it is best to check.

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