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Vatican limits use of 'monsignor' title

In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis celebrates a mass with the Jesuits on the occasion of the order's titular feast, in Rome's Jesus' Church, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, ho)

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican is limiting the use of honorific "monsignor" titles, according to a letter sent to Catholic dioceses around the world, after repeated complaints from Pope Francis about careerist priests.

The Secretariat of State, the central administration of the Catholic Church, said it said on Wednesday that the title could now only be given to priests who are at least 65 years old and those who occupy senior posts.

The new rules do not apply to existing "monsignors".

The title, which translates as "My Lord", has been in use in the Church since the Middle Ages and was previously attributable to priests aged 35 years and over on recommendation from their bishops.

Critics said the system encouraged favouritism and worldy ambitions within the clergy. Pope Paul VI, a predecessor who Francis often refers to, in 1968 had already drastically limited the use of honorary titles.

Francis has called for an overhaul of the Vatican administration and finances and has said the Catholic Church should be "a poor Church for the poor".

 

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