Thursday, March 5, 2009

How do you address a Bishop (or Archbishop or Cardinal)

Ann recently asked me how to address our Bishop while we were attending the Rite of Election in the Diocese of Buffalo. I shared that face to face you would say, "Bishop Kmiec" and when writing a letter it would be addressed to "Most Reverend Kmiec." Staff apologist at Catholic Answers, Michelle Arnold, expands upon the subject much better than I can:

In spoken conversation, you would call your bishop "Bishop (last name)" or "Your Excellency." In opening a letter, you would put "Dear Bishop (last name)" or "Your Excellency" ("Dear" is not used in front of "Your [title]"). In addressing an envelope you would put on the first line "The Most Rev. (full name)" and on the second line "Bishop of (diocese)."

Archbishops follow the same protocol as bishops. Cardinals are addressed as "Cardinal (last name)" or "Your Eminence." Letters to cardinals open "Dear Cardinal (last name)" or "Your Eminence." In addressing the envelope the first line would read "(first name) Cardinal (last name)" or "Cardinal (full name)"; the second line would read "Archbishop (or Bishop) of (archdiocese or diocese)."

On a more personal note, I find it a bit presumptuous to address a priest as 'Father Joe' unless he has made it clear that the informality is acceptable. And as for permanent Deacons, letters addressed to them would be to the attention of 'Mr. John Brown' and in person, 'Deacon Brown' is best. Transitional Deacons should be addressed as 'Rev. John Brown' as they are about to be ordained as a Priest.

As for me, I think we have a fabulously orthodox Bishop and I am drawn to address him as: "Thank God for you, Bishop Kmiec."


David Marciniak said...

Thanks for the article! I am not very familiar with Bishop Kmiec even though I am in the Diocese of Buffalo, but many have a less than favorable attitude about him. He seems, the few times I have shaken his hand, to be very kind and personable. You stated he is orthodox - tell me how you know. Thanks!

Kelly said...

Hello David. :)

Many have a less than favorable attitude toward Bishop Kmiec, in my estimation, due to his program for closing and merging parishes.

He is very orthodox. Compare him to the shepherd in charge in the Diocese of Rochester and you will find the exact opposite. Bishop Kmiec does not allow liturgical abuse, addresses concerns of the laity in a very timely manner, is very supportive of Catholic schools and believes them to be a necessary ministry of the Church. He recently addressed the schismatic group from Rochester which celebrates a fake 'Mass' (think ordained women and actively gay participants) with a clear admonition for Catholics in the Diocese of Buffalo - the celebrations are not Catholic and if you attend, you are placing yourself in a grave situation. You'll find archived articles on my blog about the Diocese of Rochester and Bishop Matthew Clark. Sometimes we need to see what we don't have to appreciate what we do.


Kelly said...

David - just to elaborate - I personally have yet to meet someone who has a negative word to say about Bishop Kmiec in our Vicariate. Our parish is the result of 4 merged parishes and it is more vibrant than ever. Our school has received a lot of support from Bishop Kmiec and it is because of him it is still open.

David Marciniak said...

Thanks, Kelly! I pray for the Bishop every day, and thank you for a new appreciation for him. And you are so right about Rochester...