Why do we call Bishops, 'Your Excellency'?


#1

I’ve wondered this for a while, could anyone here help me?

I’d like to know the origin and history too.

Thanks!


#2

It's more polite than, "Your Baldness" :D


#3

[quote="Regina_Love, post:2, topic:318817"]
It's more polite than, "Your Baldness" :D

[/quote]

Hey now not all bishops, some have quite a full head of hair, you just can't see it under that big funny hat they wear:D

Actually the reason I ask is I volunteer for the confirmation class at my parish, and this week they're gonna be writing to the bishop to tell him why they want to be confirmed, and I can GUARANTEE this question will come up, and I wanted to be able to give some semblance of an answer. You know how them high schoolers are;)


#4

[quote="Regina_Love, post:2, topic:318817"]
It's more polite than, "Your Baldness" :D

[/quote]

LOL!...............................Your excellency baldness; how are you?
Mary.


#5

[quote="Robyn_p, post:3, topic:318817"]
Hey now not all bishops, some have quite a full head of hair, you just can't see it under that big funny hat they wear:D

Actually the reason I ask is I volunteer for the confirmation class at my parish, and this week they're gonna be writing to the bishop to tell him why they want to be confirmed, and I can GUARANTEE this question will come up, and I wanted to be able to give some semblance of an answer. You know how them high schoolers are;)

[/quote]

I have had a few non-Catholics ask me "Why is it that Catholic like hats so much?:)
Bless you for your work with our youth.
Mary.


#6

From what I can tell it is borrowed from civil usage, where it has historically signified a head of state or a member of royalty or nobility -- and in many places still does. Since a bishop is a type of ruler (and a sort of knight if you will), it is fitting that a bishop should have such a title. It reminds us of the authority and dignity that Christ bestowed on the clerical offices, and helps put us in a reverential and submissive frame of mind. You also see (and I think this is more universal) "reverend lord" and variations. The traditional addresses in person and by letter are different.

Ecclesiastical Addresses (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Excellency (Wikipedia)

How to Address Catholic Clergy (WikiHow)


#7

I find it much more affirming than “Bishop Joe”. We don’t call our priests “Priest Bob” because it reduces the person to their mere function and seems to be curt and unaffectionate. “Father” is much more endearing and real.

America is so quick to destroy any semblance of hierarchy and make everything egalitarian. However, Catholicism is a hierarchical religion by nature. That is part of its Divine Constitution (ie, that’s how Christ himself founded it). So we cannot change it into a democracy without destroying the Church itself.

So I applaud you in your efforts to reaffirm Catholic etiquette by teaching these kids how to address a Bishop as “Excellency” (or “Emminence” if a Cardinal). It reinforces an aspect of the Church that many Americans are so quick to downplay.

Be Catholic unreservedly!


#8

It should be noted that in the UK and Canada archbishops are addressed as “your grace”, the proper address for dukes, as archbishops were considered their social equals. (Just as cardinals were “princes of the Church” and equal in rank to royal princes of the blood, archbishops were essentially “dukes of the Church”).


#9

Thanks everyone! These have all been really helpful.


#10

[quote="twf, post:8, topic:318817"]
Just as cardinals were "princes of the Church" and equal in rank to royal princes of the blood, archbishops were essentially "dukes of the Church").

[/quote]

Hey I just thought of something! LK 22:29 Jesus says He's appointing a KINGDOM to the apostles. Huh see learn something more about our faith everyday. :thumbsup:


#11

In the civil Order of Precedence of Europe, a bishop ranked as the equivalent of a Count\Earl. Both are addressed as 'Your Excellency" in English. If you were introduced to the Charles Spencer ( Earl Spencer), the correct verbal form of address would be "Your Excellency"

An Archbishop ranked as the equivalent of a secular Duke, and (at least in Europe) both are addressed as "Your Grace" (in the US, Archbishops are addressed as Your Excellency")

A pastor ranked as a town Squire and a Monsignor ( "My Lord") as a land holder Knight.


#12

In the Byzantine Rite (and most other Eastern Rites in one form or another) when speaking to any bishop, no matter his rank, we call him Master. "Master, bless!"


#13

It seems that "Your Excellency" is primarily used in North America. It was once used for bishops while "Your Grace" was used for archbishops, but the distinction is rarely made anymore, and many bishops prefer to be simply addressed as "Bishop." In many other English-speaking areas, "My Lord" or "Lord Bishop" is used, which would have obviously raised the anti-royalist hackles of many Americans.


#14

“Excellency” is a title for a governor or one who holds the governance. It is used one place in the Bible, don’t remember where. Interestingly the first US President was titled “His Excellency” Just one of those old terms :slight_smile:


#15

[quote="latingirl, post:14, topic:318817"]
"Excellency" is a title for a governor or one who holds the governance. It is used one place in the Bible, don't remember where. Interestingly the first US President was titled "His Excellency" Just one of those old terms :)

[/quote]

Presidents, governors, and ambassadors are still properly addressed as "Your excellency." Of course, you won't see it (much) in ordinary correspondence, but in diplomatic communications this style is still used.


closed #16

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