addressing priest, rabbi or monk [in different religions]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Oros, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. Oros Senior Member


    If you meet a priest, rabbi or monk, the way to address in a respectble manner is 'Reverand Sir'.

    If you go to India to meet Dalai Lama or go to Rome to meet incumbent of the Vatican, the way to address is ' Your Holiness'

    Please tell me if I am wrong.
  2. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    The correct form of address depends on the religion.

    Protestant clergy are usually addressed as "Reverend", but this depends on the group. Some are addressed simply as Mr Smith.

    Catholic and Orthodox priests are addressed as "Father".
    High Church Anglican clergy are also called "Father".
    Monks are often addressed as "Brother".
    I believe a Rabbi is called "Rabbi".

    Then there are different rules for Patriarchs, Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops.

    Some clergy who have Doctorates are called Dr.

    In the unlikely event that you have a private audience with Benedict XVI, you address him as "Your Holiness".
  3. Oros Senior Member

    Thanks Brioche

    So in Catholic and Protestant church use the word 'Father'.

    Do you say 'Father' when you meet him at the church?

    You are not correct about the way people address Buddhisht monks. We tell him [Theravada sect] 'Reverand Sir'.

    I don't know about other monks. In monasteries, you find monks of other denominations. I wouldn't draw a parallel between Buddhist monks and other monks.

    I firmly believe even in Mahayana Buddhist, people address monks as 'Reverand Sir'.

    Do you say Father to a priest when you meet him at the Church Service or rather inside the Church premises?
  4. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    I believe that only Catholic priests (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, etc). are referred to as "Father", but you could also refer to them as "Reverend". In other Christian religions, you can use "Reverend" (and some use "Pastor").

    For a Catholic priest, you can say "Good morning, Father Smith" at any time, whether at a church or elsewhere.
  5. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
  6. Oros Senior Member

    Thanks everybody for the replies

    When I meet a friend, I would say the following:

    I met the Reverend yesterday/ last week.

    When I go to the temple I address him 'Reverend Sir'.

    The words 'Reverend Sir' seems overdone. I guess these wordings has to do with the cultural aspects too. Veneration differs from culture to culture. Buddhists are a minority in the west.
  7. TampaZeke New Member

    I am Theravada Buddhist and I have never heard anyone address a monk as "Reverend". At least in the Sri Lankan tradition we address monks as "Venerable Sir" or "Bhante + their name" (i.e. Bhante Ananda).
  8. Kannan91 Member

    'Reverend' isn't a noun, so you can't use it like that. You would address the person as "reverend sir" and refer to him in the third person as "the reverend Mr/ Dr X".
  9. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    As you can see, there is no rule that applies to all religions, and forms of address may even differ between sects or divisions of a widespread religion. If you are planning to meet with clergy of a religion with which you are unfamiliar, you should inquire in advance as to the respectful manner of address to use.
  10. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    I think that Brioche was referencing Catholic monks when he said they are called "Brother."

    With Catholic priests, you can call them "Father Jallas" (using their last name), or "Father Bob" if you know they are okay with people using their first name (most are, in my experience), or just "Father."

    I've never known any Protestant ministers personally (that surprises me somewhat to realize, but it's true!), so I don't know what I'd call them.
  11. JuicyJew Senior Member

    No it's not just catholics who use Father, some Protestants do too.
  12. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    There is no rule in English that one has to adopt the trappings of any particular religion, especially when it's not one's own, in order to show mutual respect to another human being and certainly not "reverend sir" in the Christian or Jewish theologies, as far as I know.
  13. That's right. I'm an Anglican and I call our priest Father.

  14. JuicyJew Senior Member

    I agree. I think if you're in an english speaking country you can safely bet that "sir/ma'am" will be a good enough default.
  15. preppie Senior Member

    Mid Atlantic, US
    American English (Mostly MidAtlantic)
    Although 'reverend' isn't thought of a a noun, some church leaders are addressed as Reverend - without any use of name or surname. In the US, I regularly hear people address him/her in the manner of "Hi, Reverend .. great sermon today."

    A rabbi, in my experience, is always addressed as Rabbi.. again, no name or surname. He/she may addressed as Doctor (with a PhD) and that does usually have the last name included.

    I can't say that I have ever been corrected or leered at when using either with the appropriate member of the clergy.
  16. Oros Senior Member

    Tampa wrote the following:
    I am Theravada Buddhist and I have never heard anyone address a monk as "Reverend". At least in the Sri Lankan tradition we address monks as "Venerable Sir" or "Bhante + their name" (i.e. Bhante Ananda).

    I beg to differ.
    In Sri Lankan tradition Venerable Sir, Reverend Sir and Bhante + name is widely used.
    I have heard it.
  17. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    While one does hear this, it is not strictly correct for use in conversation; the proper form of address for speaking to Protestant clergy who did not have doctorates was traditionally "Mister" (or Miss, or Mrs., or Ms. for female clergy.) For example, when addressing an envelope containing an invitation, one would write "Reverend Clement Playfair", but when speaking to the man himself at the party, one would say "Mister Playfair, would you like still another glass of bourbon?"
  18. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    It's not uniform there, as Brioche has said.

    I'm Anglican, and we call our vicar by his first name ('Philip', or even 'Phil'). Or we say 'vicar'. I can't imagine anyone addressing him as 'Reverend'. It needs to be Reverend + Surname (which is what the church secretary says).

    This is a little different, therefore, from GreenWhiteBlue's suggestion above - I don't think we'd use Mr + Surname.

    I used to belong to a church where there wasn't an ordained leadership. The elders were addressed in the same way as other people.

    I don't think there is a cover-all term that can be used. You need to check what is normal in each church, etc.
  19. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    Note I said "traditionally"; at one time in England, this was the universal practice for Anglican clergy. I am quite sure that all of John Keble's parishioiners at Hursley called him "Mr. Keble" when addressing him, although when he went to Oriel College and spoke on intimate terms with his friend and colleague Dr. Pusey, who was also a clergyman, Pusey -- since they were friends -- would have addressed him as "Keble", without the "Mr." Absolutely no one other than his immediate family (such as his wife or his father), though, would have addressed him as "John" (which would have been thought rude and overly familiar), and to call him "Father Keble" would have been much too much a "Roman" practice for that day for Keble to have tolerated it.

    You may easily find the usage of calling an Anglican clergyman "Mister" in John Henry Newman's Apologia pro Vita Sua, which Newman wrote in response to an attack on his honesty by the famous Anglican clergyman Charles Kingsley: whenever Newman mentions Kingsley with a title, he calls him "Mister Kingsley."
  20. Oros Senior Member


    I have learnt in BrE it is common to use '
    the Right Honourable' for priests as well as lawmakers.

    Our friends who speak BrE or rather who represent BrE should know this.
  21. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I have heard Pastor, Father, Reverend, and Brother in various Christian churches in the U.S. and that's just a subset of all the possibilities in one religion in the U.S., of which there are many.

    As others have said, I don't think there is a single term you could use in all situations.
  22. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    British English
    This is not correct. Neither 'priests' nor 'lawmakers' are addressed this way, only people who are members of the Privy Council and a few others and then only formally or when writing envelopes to them. The Anglican Archbishops of York and Canterbury are members of the Queen's Privy Council.
    If I were introduced to "The Most Reverent and Right Honourable The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury", whose name is Rowan Williams, I would call him Rowan if he was calling me by my first name.

    Last edited: May 16, 2011

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