Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I tell people they can just call me "sir."

Today, the website of the New Oxford Review features a piece from their January 2000 issue entitled: "Bishop Fred?" Why? "Would Catholics refer to their bishop by his first name? Not likely. It would be incongruous because it would be so disrespectful. Oh yes, we've heard of some Catholics on the left fringe who do so, but they probably do so in order to signal their own low view of the episcopate."

Actually, in the Eastern churches -- both Catholic and Orthodox -- priests and bishops are more often than not, referred to by their first names, as in "Father Basil," or "Bishop Seraphim." The motive of their faithful is less one of familiarity, than of endearment.


Jeff said...

Good old David. This is one of the things I really like about you. You're not afraid to "spoil" a good point by pointing out something that doesn't fit the framework.

I like it because it helps one get to the deeper underlying issues. How is Bishop Serafim, by the way? I was looking at Catholic Blog for Lovers on the anniversary of its author's death...

Jeff said...

Not just Fathers and Bishops by the way... But saints and popes.

GFvonB said...

I think the whole last name thing for secular Priests and Prelates in the Western Church has more to do with the way secular honorifics developed in the last couple of centuries. That having been said, "Bishop Donald" still sounds wierd to me.

Der Tommissar said...


The Eastern Catholics and Orthodox don't use the familiar or diminutive form of a first name.

For example, Father would be "Father James", not "Father Jim" or "Father Jimmy".

The current use of first names, I believe, is an attempt to introduce an egalitarianism between clergy and laity that cannot and does not exist.