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Pope honors Msgr. Moroney as ‘Prelate of Honor’

Posted By August 9, 2012 | 1:17 pm | Lead Story #2
8-10 Moroney_print

By Tanya Connor

Pope Benedict XVI has named another Worcester Diocesan priest to the second level of monsignor, Bishop McManus announced this week, recognizing his contributions to the life of the Church.
Msgr. James P. Moroney was named Prelate of Honor, an honor held by a few priests in the diocese, the bishop told The Catholic Free Press Monday.
He said he requested this for Msgr. Moroney a few months ago, because he thought it would be a great honor to the priest personally, to the diocese, and to St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, where Msgr. Moroney is rector. It is also an honor that a priest from the Worcester Diocese has been asked to serve as rector of a major seminary, he said.
Msgr. Moroney said he thought his being named Prelate of Honor would be celebrated at his Mass of Investiture as rector at the seminary in late September. Cardinal Seán O’Malley will celebrate that Mass, and Bishop McManus and several other bishops from around New England will concelebrate, he said.
Bishop McManus said that Monday he received a copy of the  diploma-like document in Latin bestowing on Msgr. Moroney the title of Prelate of Honor. It was officially bestowed June 28, he said.
Msgr. Moroney said the bishop informed him Monday of the honorary title, which was a surprise to him.
“It’s usually at the request of the bishop,” he said of the pope raising priests from the first level of monsignor to the second. “So I’m grateful both to the Holy Father and bishop for this vote of confidence.” He said he is not worthy of it.
When the pope seeks to honor a priest, it is usually by naming him a monsignor, first to the first level – Chaplain of His Holiness – said Msgr. Moroney, who received that title in 2001.
Sometimes the pope later names the priest to the second level, Prelate of Honor. Worcester diocesan priests who hold that honorary title include Msgr. F. Stephen Pedone, Msgr. Anthony S. Czarnecki, Msgr. Francis J. Scollen, Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, Msgr. Francis D. Kelly, Msgr. James A. Mongelluzzo and Msgr. Richard E. Collette.
The third level of monsignor, Protonotary Apostolic, is rarely granted, Msgr. Moroney said. However, retired Msgr. Edmond T. Tinsley, former diocesan director of fiscal affairs and currently an assisting priest at St. John Parish, holds that title.
Among honors the pope gives laity, including some in the Worcester Diocese, are the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice medal, and making a person a Knight of Malta or and Knight of St. Gregory, Msgr. Moroney noted.
“My title doesn’t change; I’m still called ‘Monsignor’,” the honoree said.
What changes is his clothing. At liturgical events he will wear a magenta cassock, the same as a bishop wears, he said. At non-liturgical events he will wear a cassock similar to a bishop’s: black with magenta piping.
Msgr. Moroney said he will remain consultor to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and executive secretary of its Vox Clara committee of bishops from the English-speaking world.
He was executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for the Liturgy from 1996-2007, and has served in numerous capacities in liturgical work. Before being named seminary rector, he was rector of St. Paul Cathedral in Worcester.