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Monsignor Who? Pope strikes 'monsingor' title for most priests in keeping with humble aims

  • RETRANSMISSION OF OSS102 TO PROVIDE DIFFERENT CROP - In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, Pope Francis is placed a lamb around his neck as he visits a living nativity scene staged at the St. Alfonso Maria de' Liguori parish church, in the outskirts of Rome, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. The Epiphany day, is a joyous day for Catholics in which they recall the journey of the Three Kings, or Magi, to pay homage to Baby Jesus. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, ho)The Associated Press

  • In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, Pope Francis is placed a lamb around his neck as he visits a living nativity scene staged at the St. Alfonso Maria de' Liguori parish church, in the outskirts of Rome, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. The Epiphany day, is a joyous day for Catholics in which they recall the journey of the Three Kings, or Magi, to pay homage to Baby Jesus. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, ho)The Associated Press

  • In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, Pope Francis is placed a lamb around his neck as he visits a living nativity scene staged at the St. Alfonso Maria de' Liguori parish church, in the outskirts of Rome, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. The Epiphany day, is a joyous day for Catholics in which they recall the journey of the Three Kings, or Magi, to pay homage to Baby Jesus. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, ho)The Associated Press

  • In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, Pope Francis is placed a lamb around his neck as he visits a living nativity scene staged at the St. Alfonso Maria de' Liguori parish church, in the outskirts of Rome, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. The Epiphany day, is a joyous day for Catholics in which they recall the journey of the Three Kings, or Magi, to pay homage to Baby Jesus. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, ho)The Associated Press

Pope Francis has done away with the honorific title "monsignor" for all but a few priests, further evidence of his desire for priests to be simple, humble servants.

The Vatican's Secretary of State sent a letter to its embassies asking them to inform bishops' conferences of the change. From now on, the Vatican reported Tuesday, only diocesan priests who are "chaplains of the Holy Father," can use the honorific, and then only after they turn 65.

Bishops, vicars and archbishops still get to be called "monsignor" and Holy See officials will have the title if their office warrants it.

The Vatican noted that Pope Paul VI reduced the number of ecclesiastic honorifics in 1968 and that Francis' decision "should be taken in this vein, as a further simplification."