Roman Catholic Bishop

How to Address a Roman Catholic Bishop

—–The Most Reverend
—–(Full Name)
—–Bishop of (place)

Letter salutation:
—–Dear Bishop (Surname):

Is a Bishop Addressed as Your Grace?

Your site says bishops and archbishops are addressed in conversation as ‘Bishop (Name)’ or ‘Archbishop (Name)’.

Bishops and Archbishops are NEVER addressed in conversation as ‘Bishop So-and So’ or ‘Archbishop So-and-So’. They are properly addressed as ‘Your Excellency’ or simply ‘Excellency’. In Ireland, according to their custom, Bishops are addressed as ‘Your Grace’; however, even in this case, ‘Bishop’ is not used in conversation. Your book states only nuncios are referred to and addressed as ‘Excellency’. This is not the case.
—————– SM in California

Dear SM in California:

Addressing bishops as ‘Your Grace’ is a British form of address. In the Church of England bishops are granted the precedence of a Duke … and dukes and thus by courtesy … Anglican bishops – are addressed as ‘Your Grace’. [In the United States, the American branch of the church – the Episcopal Church in the USA – addresses its Presiding Bishop as ‘the Most Reverend (Full Name)’ and its other bishops as ‘the Right Reverend (Full Name)’. Both, in conversation and in a salutation, are ‘Bishop (Surname)’.

‘His/Her/Your Excellency’ is a courtesy title used by accredited diplomats who have presented their credentials to a foreign head-of-state as the single designated representative from another head-of-state. The Papal Nuncio is that person for the Vatican and is addressed as ‘Your Excellency’  … but other bishops are not.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says U.S. Catholic bishops are correctly addressed in writing as ‘the Most Reverend (Full Name)’ and orally as ‘Bishop (Surname)’.

 – Robert Hickey     How to Address a Roman Catholic Bishop

Isn’t a Catholic Bishop Addressed as Excellency?

It seems that in practice Catholic archbishops and bishops are routinely addressed as “His/Your Excellency”, even in documents, letters, and speeches coming from the Pope.  Is this just a lack of awareness of the proper etiquette or has the practice evolved?

—————– Kevin D.

Dear Kevin D.:
Well, I too have seen Catholic bishops and archbishops addressed as Your Excellency.  But if you ask the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and look at the biographies of U.S. Catholic bishops and archbishops on their own websites – they use The Most Reverend (Full Name) and the somewhat less formal Most Reverend (Full Name).

Sometimes there is an Official Style Manual issued by the organization.  If not, here’s what I do – (1) I go the headquarters and ask “how do you prefer to have the members of your hierarchy addressed?” (2) Then I check other first-rate sources to confirm.  What is recommended and what I see in use by the best sources is the form I publish.

(1) So The Most Reverend is what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says is correct for others to use. (2) Then I called lots of bishops offices and asked the same question. Typically the public affairs writer or the Bishop’s secretary really know the answer. They are the most aware of formal forms of address in writing. A bishop’s receptionist will be cooperative and give you a quick answer, but they may not really know.

I follow the process every time.  This is what I use when contacting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or the Sikhs, the U.S. Armed Services or the European Union.

 – Robert Hickey     How to Address a Roman Catholic Bishop

See These Related Links:
Mother Superior
—–—–Nun | Sister

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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