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Letters Extra

Addressing priests as 'Father'
05 June 2014

Catherine Pepinster in her column (24 May) suggests Pope Francis should change the form of address for priests from “Father” to “Teacher”. The former Council Father, Bishop Remi De Roo, at the age of 90, said when we met him in Bristol recently that he wished to be addressed simply as Remi. This in no way diminished our respect for him as a bishop who attended all the meetings of the Second Vatican Council. By our baptism we should be living the life of a priest, prophet and king. We, the laity, are the priesthood of the baptised. We have been called by God, and sent to pass on the Good News of Jesus Christ to those we meet in our daily life.

It is my belief that we will succeed in our mission to pass on our Catholic – Christian faith, only if we avoid squabbles about the roles and status of men and women, ordained and non-ordained, and how we address our priests.

We are all equal in God's eyes and should be working side by side. No group should be sidelined because another requires acknowledgement. The ordained celibate priesthood is a special and precious vocation. The priest "lays down his life" (marriage) for the greater opportunity to care for his flock, and he is crucial to Catholic life in that he celebrates the Eucharist, enabling us all to become truly part of the Body of Christ.

If we find it natural to address a priest as Father, that is fine. If we do not, that is fine as well.

Kathy McVay, Westbury on Trym, Bristol

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Comment by: Paul Heiland
Posted: 04/07/2014 09:29:03
In Germany we call our priests "Mr.", that's it. "Herr Schmidt, Herr Schulz". The exception is with religious, where the Mr. is replaced with "Pater", but only so long as a formal relationship is upheld: When "Du" is offered, we revert to Christian names. This obviously goes for secular clergy too.