His Holiness


Is it permissible for Catholics to address leaders of other faiths as ‘‘your/His Holiness’’ if that is the title used for them by members of their faith? For example, the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan Buddhists or Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslims. I am talking of course about legitimate religious leaders, not cult founders.


I’m not Catholic, but I’ve referred to the Pope as “Holy Father”, when talking to a priest.

I’ve never seen anything in the catechism or elsewhere, that would reject the use by Catholics of those appropriate titles for non-Catholic religious leaders.

I wonder what the Dalai Lama and the Pope call each other, when they meet?

“Your Holiness…”
“No, *Your *Holiness…”
“I disagree. Your Holiness…”

Now, if only George Bush would pay attention.:smiley:


I agree, I think it was pretty disrespectful to just call him sir. But then again I suppose he was trying to be respectful in the way he is accustomed, its a Southern U.S thing maybe? I’ve noticed most people from the Southern states always respond with yes sir/ma’am


I agree, I think it was pretty disrespectful to just call him sir. But then again I suppose he was trying to be respectful in the way he is accustomed, its a Southern U.S thing maybe? I’ve noticed most people from the Southern states always respond with yes sir/ma’am

It is very common here in the Southern US.

I’ve vaguely wondered how it’s appropriate for Protestant to address priests, bishops, etc. Probably just like Catholics right? or not?


Yeah the same way as Catholics, it’s their official title, like Your Eminence for Cardinals or Your Majesty for the Queen (or another monarch). I always call the Anglican Vicar and the Methodist minister in my town Reverend, on the odd occasion I speak to them. Then again many Protestants are uncomfortable with the idea of calling a priest ‘‘Father’’.


I agree that religious leaders of all religions should be given the respect.
I am an Ahmadi – a peaceful faith in Islam bridging gaps between faiths/denominations/religions/agnostics
The West, as I understand, due to certain disinformation has seen only MullahIslam or MullahShariah; the true face of Muhammad’sIslam and PromisedMessiahImamMahdi’sIslam is yet hidden from their eyes, which is truly speaking only peaceful.
GodAllahYHWH is All-Knowing; one should invariably give Claim and Reason on all important issues from one’s Revealed Book; one shouldn’t try putting one’s own words into God’s mouth.


Yes but I was asking whether or not it is permissible for Catholics to use these titles for leaders of another faith. For instance, as an Ahmadi Muslim would you call the pope ‘‘Your Holiness’’ or ‘‘Holy Father’’?


I would think that it is similar to Americans addressing Queen Elizabeth as Your Majesty, as simply a gesture of respect. It’s a recognition of her position within her own culture, not an assumption that she is therefore Queen of America, or that they considered themselves bound to her in any way.



i only reserve the title ‘Holy Father’ and address ‘your holiness’ for the Holy Father or any patriarch of legitimate apostolic succession… not for non Catholic leaders… i would not use eminence, reverend or father either…

i think the best thing to do is use their title… imam so and so, dalai lama, or rabbi… also many times they hold doctorates so that is also acceptable i think…

que Dios te bendiga


But these men I described also have the title ‘‘Your Holiness’’ For instance I imagine I would be quite offended if a Protestant addressed the Holy Father simply as ‘‘Pope’’.


hola LDNCatholic

i still think it is best that we do not use these titles for them… i am certain that with tact and enough foresight there can be a way to address them in a manner that does not insult them, and does not attribute adjectives to them we do not believe they truly embody…

i would not be offended if a non Catholic did not address the Holy Father as “Your Holiness” because i would know that they do not believe this and it is not polite to expect them to express beliefs they do not have… but i would still expect respect… i would be okay with “Pope” or “Sir” if i knew the intent was to show respect.

i think the Holy Father would understand…

que Dios te bendiga


True, however as another poster stated, the Queen of England can be called ‘‘Your Majesty’’ without you believing her to be your Queen.



but you are only saying she holds maiestas… which she does, over england.

holiness means the person themself is in a holy office or has a quality of holiness about them… the Holy Father does indeed have this… the dalai lama does not.

que Dios te bendiga


I see your point… So is this the official position of the Catholic Church? That we reserve the titles for the Holy Father?


This question should be posed in the “Ask an apologist” forum.


I’ll do that now then thanks for the advice



no no i was only giving my opinion, i am sorry. i think it is best you ask in the apologist section or ask your bishop…

honestly i think your bishop would tell you that it is okay to say holiness… most of the time when i ask my cardinal questions he laughs and says if i think to hard about it…

que Dios te bendiga


Well thankyou for your opinions I have reposted this question in the Ask an Apologist forum.


George W. Bush did not move to Texas until he was a teenager. He was born and raised in Maine I do believe.

It was very disrespectful of him to call the Pope “sir”. Does anyone know what the Pope called him?

Our priest called Jerry Falwell, “the Reverend Jerry Falwell” when he asked for us to pray for the repose of his soul after he died and acknowledged that his “flock” were now without their “pastor” and to pray for them and his family and friends in this time of distress. I could not help but think it was more than he might get if the situation was reversed.

Ravyn–in the ‘south’


Reminds me of a blurb I read in Reader’s Digest years ago…

The Queen Mother lived at Clarence House, less than 500 yards from her daughter’s Buckingham Palace home. The two queens spoke to each other by telephone every morning, following the switchboard’s standard introduction: “Your Majesty? Her Majesty, Your Majesty.”

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