MANILA - Pope Francis has chosen three Filipino priests as "Chaplains to His Holiness," earning them the title "monsignor."
The three priests all came from the Diocese of Borongan in Eastern Samar: Rev. Msgr. Lope Robredillo, the incumbent vicar general; Rev. Msgr. Eutiquio “Euly” Belizar, head of the diocese's Commission on Doctrine of the Faith; and Rev. Msgr. Romeo Solidon, who is serving at the Cathedral Parish of the Nativity of Our Lady.
The Diocese of Borongan announced the appointment on Friday, January 7.
The honorific form of address "monsignor" is a pontifical honor used for those who are chosen as "Chaplain of His Holiness." Under Pope Paul VI, there were three classes of monsignor: Protonary Apostolic, Honorary Prelate, and Chaplain of His Holiness.
Those who are honored with the title are considered part of the papal household.
But in 2014, Pope Francis, as part of his efforts to curb clericalism in the Catholic Church, scaled back the rules governing this particular papal award and abolished the other classes except for Chaplain of His Holiness.
In fact, during his time as the cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, Francis refused to petition the Vatican to bestow the monsignor title to his priests.
Except for those working in the Vatican City, the current rules state that those who are eligible to receive the title are priests who are over 65 years of age and have rendered valuable service to the church or have provided a specific and specialized function in the Church governance.