religious titles

The first reference to a clergyman or clergywoman normally should include a capitalized title before the individual's name.

In many cases, the Rev. is the designation that applies before a name on first reference. Use the Rev. Dr. only if the individual has an earned doctoral degree (doctor of divinity degrees frequently are honorary) and reference to the degree is relevant.

On second reference to members of the clergy, use only a last name: the Rev. Billy Graham on first reference, Graham on second. If known only be a religious name, repeat the title: Pope Paul VI or Pope Paul on first reference Pope Paul, the pope (not Paul) or the pontiff on second; Metropolitan Ireney or the metropolitan on second.

Detailed guidance on specific titles and descriptive words such as priest and minister is provided in the entries for major denominations. In general, however:

CARDINALS, ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS; The preferred form for first reference is to use Cardinal, Archbishop or Bishop before the induvidual's name: Cardinal Timothy Manning, archbishop of Los Angeles. On second reference: Manning or the cardinal.

Substitute the Most Rev. if applicable and appropriate in the context: He spoke to the Most Rev. Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop of Philadelphia. On second reference: Bevilacqua or the archbishop.

Entries for indivudual denominations tell when the Most Rev., the Very Rev., etc., are applicable.


Use the Rev. before a name on first reference.

Substitute Monsignor before the name of a Roman Catholic priest who has received this honor.

Do not routinely use curate, father, pastor and similar words before an individual's name. If they appear before a name in a quotation, capitalize them.

RABBIS: Use Rabbi before a name on first reference. On second reference, use only the last name.

NUNS: Always use Sister, or Mother if applicable, before a name: Sister Agnes Rita in all references if the nun uses only a religious name; Sister Clare Regina Torpy on first reference if she uses a surname, Sister Torpy on second reference.

OFFICEHOLDERS: The preferred first-reference form for those who hold church office but are not ordained clergy in the usual sense is to use a construction that sets the title apart from the name by commas. Capitalize the formal title of an office, however, if it is used directly before an indivudual's name.