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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Addressing the clergy

How is this done in Orthodox churches? I get the feeling that this will differ greatly from one jurisdiction to another, but I'm rather curious.

What I'm looking for is the correct form for each of the following for the different classes of clergy:
a/ how to refer to a clergyman in the third person.
b/ how to address a clergyman in person.
c/ how to address a clergyman in writing (on an envelope).

In Anglican circles, the above as they apply to a diocesan bishop would be:
a/ Bishop N. or Father N.
b/ My Lord/My Lord Bishop.
c/ The Rt Revd the Bishop of (name of See).

How is this done in Orthodoxy?

Many thanks.

8 comments:

The young fogey said...

In the Byzantine Rite the main difference from the Roman and Anglican usages is that clergy are addressed by title and first name. (Only some religious orders, namely monks, do that in the Roman Rite AFAIK.)

a. Bishop Firstname, Father Firstname, Father Deacon Firstname (not 'Title Lastname', the usual Roman and Anglican usage, though you sometimes read and hear Orthodox use that).

b. Your All-Holiness (patriarch of Constantinople, because his see is the former Roman Empire's capital), Your Beatitude (patriarchs), Your Eminence (metropolitans and archbishops), Your Grace (bishop), Father Firstname (priest or deacon). I think 'Bishop Firstname' might be accepted as well. If the cleric is a monk, as most Orthodox bishops are, then you can put the surname in parentheses after the first name: Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev). Priests and deacons who are not monks are Fr or Fr Deacon Firstname Surname in writing. Also, in Russian usage you can call a bishop 'Vladyka' ('my lord') and a popular, beloved priest is often addressed as 'batushka' ('BAH-tyoosh-kah', diminutive of 'Father').

c. I don't know all the versions of 'the Revd' that are are used here but:

His Beatitude Patriarch Firstname
(exception: the patriarch of Constantinople is His All-Holiness)
His Eminence Metropolitan Firstname** of See
His Eminence Archbishop Firstname of See
His Grace Bishop Firstname of See

Archimandrites are the Rt Revd, abbots the Very Revd, priest the Revd. I think deacons are the Revd as well. Minor clerics aren't: they're Subdeacon or Reader Firstname Surname and called 'Title Firstname'.

When writing to his bishop the priest doesn't sign his name as 'Fr Firstname' but rather 'Priest Firstname'. That's because the bishop is in himself a reverend father in God (to use the words of the Prayer Book!); priests are given the privilege of being called 'Father' by the laity because they represent the bishop.

Not only priests but deacons and monks above the rank of ryassophore (above novice) are 'Father' as well.

I imagine those clergy who use a Western Rite like you're interested in use the equivalent Roman and Anglican titles and forms of address: 'Fr Lastname' and so on.

*In the case of monks, which most Orthodox bishops are, that's the name given in religion. When a monk takes the strictest vows, becoming a great schemamonk, he gets a new name then as well.

**Greek and Russian usages flip-flop these titles. Russian metropolitans outrank archbishops but with the Greeks it's the other way round. The higher rank of the two is in charge of a province like a Roman Rite or Anglican archbishop.

The young fogey said...

Also, in writing:

His Beatitude Firstname, Patriarch of See

Michael said...

Thank you for that extensive response, Serge. That's a great help.

In my online reading and conversations with people, I must admit that, in Anglican circles, I have only ever read "Fr surname" from Americans. I have ocasionally, but very rarely, come across that on this side of the pond, but it always sounds a little out of the ordinary, because it isn't what I'm accustomed to hearing. I think this may be very much culture-specific.

Richard said...

It does seem the case that Fr. Surname is only used in very stuffy, old-fashioned Anglican circles this side of the pond nowadays. Or, rather, if that is the general rule.

In my home parish, we have Fr. Firstname (the parish priest), and Fr. Surname. Fr. Surname is known as such, it seems, because of his octogenarian nature, more than the fact that priests should be addressed by their surname.

The young fogey said...

You're welcome!

And thanks for the reminder: in the States one often finds a more conservative brand of Anglo-Catholicism than in England. Certainly in the cases of liturgy and customs! It's funny because most Americans think the English are always more formal. I do remember 'Fr Firstname' used a lot in England but the AC circle I know and love is old-fashioned, one of the first priests I met in it was English and he was old-school: he was Fr Laister, never Fr Peter!

Another difference, I'm told, is that overall American Episcopal usage seems higher so in England usually only identified ACs are 'Father'; others are 'Mister'. In the States 'Father' is used across the spectrum of churchmanship now. (There aren't that many old-fashioned Low Churchmen - they joined dissenting churches in America.) The ladies go by 'Mother Firstname'.

Similarly I was culture-shocked at St Stephen's House to find that even sound English and Welsh ACs like the 1979 American Prayer Book! In the States conservatives hate it and as a party badge of orthodoxy stick to the (often not used as printed) US 1928 book, which is like 1662 - seems horribly Protestant to English ACs! Who unlike their American cousins have no use for ye-olde Cranmerian language.

As for me, I'm no Protestant but love Miles Coverdale's psalter, which ironically gives me away as American-born!

Once went to 1662 Evensong at St Mary's, Norton-on-Tees when a friend was the vicar there (he was 'Fr Firstname') and knew the prayers better than he did because he never used them!

Richard said...

Fr. Laister certainly sounds very interesting - a good thing indeed.

The young fogey said...

He was.

P.S. Much like the differing attitude towards the 1979 US Prayer Book, another shock to somebody coming from stateside Catholicism is to find the Novus Ordo being held up as a party badge of orthodoxy as it often is by English ACs! Relative to the not-missed ASB, which was in use in most places when I was in England, maybe it was!

Aristibule said...

Additionally, besides the Russian use of 'Vladyka' and 'Batushka' - Antiochian (Syrian) bishops are referred to as Saidna ('our Master'), and their priests as Abouna ('our Father') and Khouri (Priest). The Greeks have a whole range of extra titles for various positions that derive from the Imperial Byzantine court (protosyngelos, economos, archon, protopsaltis, evangelos, apostolos, etc.) - as well as the equivalent title of 'Despoti' (Master/Lord) for a Bishop (humorously enough, where we get our word 'Despot'.) Greek priests are 'presvyteros', their wives 'presvytera' (Russian priest's wives are 'matushka', Antiochian priest's wives are 'Khouria')