Catholics referring to non-Catholic clerics

Apologies if this is the wrong spot, I wasn’t quite sure where to put it.

I am a minister of a Protestant denomination, and while I generally don’t wear the full “get up” or a dog collar day to day in correspondence with others via e-mail and letters people generally refer to me by honorific, the same way they might a Doctor or a Dame.

There is one Catholic lady I’ve been in touch with recently (nothing to do with her faith don’t worry) and according to her, it would be a sin to call me or any other non-Catholic “cleric” Reverend, your grace, Vicar, Pastor or whatever title they went by since that would be acknowledging a non believer to have ecclesiastical authority when we are schismatics.

Is that true? I’m not offended either way and don’t intend to bring it up, merely surprised as I’ve never encountered this before. I don’t know if she’s being scrupulous or if this is Catholic teaching.

Edit: Fixed typos

No, there is no prohibition related to Catholics using honorifics when addressing non-Catholic ministers.

If I meet a cleric from another Christian denomination, I refer to them as (depending on the denomination) Minister, Reverend, Pastor. If I meet a Jewish leader of a congregation, I refer to him as Rabbi. If I meet an Islam leader of a congregation, I refer to him as Iman.

It shouldn’t be a matter of scruples or triumphalism, but rather simple courtesy.

It *could *be a sin, particularly if a Catholic had the intent which your lady acquaintance mentions, or if using the honorific were likely to give the impression that she had such intent. But I imagine that today most clergy, when talking to someone of another faith, would simply regard the honorific as a courtesy rather than a statement of faith. Would that be true for you, Athus?

Using an appropriate and courtesy title as implying “authority” is a real stretch. Calling a college teacher “professor” doesn’t imply that they have the authority to give you homework. Our Bishop has introduced, in a public setting, both a Lutheran bishop and an Episcopal bishop as “Bishop.” If it’s good enough for our bishop, it’s good enough for me.

I don’t see anything wrong with addressing clergy of other denominations by their honorific titles. And further, I would say that it is appropriate to do so.

I refer to clergy of any denomination by their clerical title as some that I am aquainted with come to the major retailor where I work especially a rabbi who comes in quite often My usual greeting to him is Hey Rabbi hows it going He knows that I am Catholic and asks me if iI have been keeping myself out of the confessional.

There are some people who think that, but it is not any official Church teaching. I think that such thinking is just silly. All of the recent Popes have had good and friendly relations with various Protestant clergy. We cannot deny reality by pretending that other churches do not exist.

The only thing I’ve seen is regarding how a Catholic should write to or write about mainly Protestant bishops. Nothing about spoken language

Thank you for clearing that up for me everyone, all your input is very much appreciated!

Oh of course, I have fairly regular correspondence with a Greek Orthodox Bishop and (while we’re on first name terms now) I never thought twice about referring to him as “his grace”. I’ve certainly never thought of it as “approving” of Orthodoxy, just as a respectful gesture towards a highly qualified leader the same to me as referring to an academic as Professor.

This thread got me wondering hypothetically about how a Protestant minister who adheres to “call no man father” would address a Catholic priest?

I know the OP cannot respond, but sometimes things like the bolded irk me. It is not a dog collar. It is symbolic of the vocation of the man who wears it, and his service to Christ and Christ’s Church, be he Catholic, Lutheran, or whatever.
Many times the sick and shut-ins in see that collar with joy and hope.

Sorry for the rant.


It bothered me too. I was just trying to be polite by ignoring it.

Rev. Athus, there is no problem with addressing you as reverend or any other honorific.

BTW, in charity I need to point out that the phrase “the full ‘get up’” may be one of the sources of friction with the person that you were speaking with. It’s really disrespectful to speak like that.

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