How do you address your pastor, imam, priest, rabbi, bishop or deacon?
Or it is simply "Bob" or "Catherine"?
I ask this because of what happened a few days ago in Italy. The continually surprising Pope Francis phoned an Italian student after the young man had written the pope a note about his hopes and dreams.
The pontiff just called up the kid, who was shocked and overjoyed.
In the course of the conversation, Francis asked the student to refer to him by using the informal "tu" in Italian rather than the much more formal "lei," the story says. Again, the kid was shocked. As far as we know, the pope didn't ask the young man to call him Uncle Frank, which is often what the aggregator of the daily Religion News Service e-mailed news update calls him in passing.
I think the choice of how to address a member of the clergy depends on several things, including the wishes of the one being addressed. Other factors include whether you are in a public or private setting and how well you know the person.
I have a close friend whose official title is Archdeacon. In private, just for fun, I sometimes refer to him as Your Archdeaconness, just as I often call a close rabbi friend Your Rabbiness. In some ways it's a subtle reminder that not only do I recognize the work it took for them to obtain those titles but also that they are still just male friends who can take a joke.
And now that I'm older than many of the members of the clergy I know, I tend to get to a first-name relationship fairly quickly.
The clergy to be a bit wary of are the ones who always insist on being addressed by their titles -- Pastor Brown, Father Harrison, Imam Khan, Bishop Stuffy, etc. -- even when the person to whom they are speaking is a friend and is speaking in private. Anyone who needs that kind of adulation isn't simply trying to hold up the dignity of his office. Almost the same goes for whoever is president of the U.S., though in that case I'd expect most people in most situations to use "Mr. President."
As for how you address me, I ask you to follow what I ask of my grandchildren -- which is that they simply call me either "Your Grace" or "Your Insuperableness." Their choice -- and yours.
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A RELIGION GROWS IN THE U.S.
Ever heard of Yoruba? It's an ancient African religion that is finding followers now in the U.S. Wonder how long it will take for some Americans to develop a syndrome that would come to be called Yorubaphobia?