I want to ask a question about using titles, but I think it is too broad to be asked here.

My question is this: under what circumstance and in what manner should you address Christian clergy?

Do you address them by their personal titles, such as mister, mistress, or miss? Do you address them by their professional titles, such as Doctor or Professor, if they happen to have a PhD degree in Theology? Do you address them by "Your Eminence" or "Your Reverence" or "Your Grace"? Or maybe all those titles apply to formal situations, so in informal situations, you simply refer to them by their personal names, even though you would never address a professor by his/her first name or last name without the "Professor" as a prefix?

I also wish to know how to address Buddhist and Taoist and Jewish and Muslim clergy.

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    This varies along denominational lines. "Father", "Reverend", or "Pastor", are fairly common; I believe most clergymen would probably rather not be called "Your Eminence" or "Your Reverence" or "Your Grace". – J.R. Jul 28 '13 at 21:08
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    Christian clergy have differing conventions, depending on matters of sect traditions and status among clergy. Catholic priests are always addressed as "Father X", and I think also for Orthodox priests. Protestants come in many different varieties; inquire locally. It starts to get complicated with higher clergy, since they're technically nobility and the politeness gets very thick. Again, inquire locally. But "Reverend" is almost always safe, even for a priest. – John Lawler Jul 28 '13 at 21:11
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    @j.r., "father" is common in Italy, too, but I assure you that cardinals like of being called "his eminence", though. – user19148 Jul 28 '13 at 21:13
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    WHy are people voting to close this as too broad? Its pretty straightforward - how do you address clergy? – Mitch Jul 28 '13 at 22:44
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    @Mitch Because it’s too broad. There are uncountably many kinds of clergy. – tchrist Jul 28 '13 at 22:58

The general term for such titles is "honorific". See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Style_(manner_of_address)#Religious for details. There is another article on religious honorifics at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_of_religious_honorifics_and_titles but it appears to be incomplete.

  • Church of England parish priests were traditionally addressed as Mr. X (or Dr. if appropriate) in everyday speech, but nowadays a lot of British people seem to be adopting the American usage of "Reverend X." Of course in these more informal times many congregations will use their vicar's Christian name. It depends on what circumstances you are asking about. – Kate Bunting Aug 24 '16 at 15:34

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