Facebook locks out Catholic priest Msgr. Charles Pope, for being a “Monsignor”

I think I may have mentioned my plan to change legally my first name to “Monsignor”, ’cause that’s about the only way I’ll ever get the title.

Irony abounds around my friend Msgr. Charles Pope, in Washington DC, a fine pastor and blogger.  He has been give the bounce by the execrable Facebook – not for having only one gender – but for having the actual real title “Monsignor”.

He wrote me the other day – and I apologize to him for not getting to this sooner – with my emphases:

Just a brief note to inform you that I have been blocked from Facebook. They claim that Msgr. Charles Pope is not my real name and are requiring me to submit government ID proving that Msgr. Charles Pope is my true identity. As of now, I have no intention of doing this since I consider it an unreasonable demand by them. They further indicate that even if I supply the IDs from at least two sources, that they reserve the right not to reactivate my account if the name I have used does not meet their preferences. [EXPLETIVE – mine -DELETED!]

They explain the reason for their action as:

We ask everyone on Facebook to use the name they go by in everyday life so friends know who they’re connecting with [jerks]

But of course this IS the name that I go by “in everyday life.” Further, I have had a Facebook account under the name of “Msgr. Charles Pope” for over 6 years now. This is my name, this is who I am. I have 5,000 friends on Facebook who know me by this.

Facebook of course is a private company and they can do whatever they want and treat their clients and users in whatever foul ways they wish. But my current stance on this matter is to resist their demand and seek to share my dissatisfaction.

Facebook was once an open forum to discuss and share. It has become increasingly autocratic and ideological. It may be time for many of us to encourage them to reform or to simply leave Facebook. [Do you use Facebook for your usual online contacts?  Reconsider.]

I respect that some of you may differ with my assessment of things, but I did want to explain my sudden absence from Facebook and I request your help in spread this information with others you think might wonder as to my disappearance from that forum.

My Twitter Feed is @MsgrPope

Rev. Msgr Charles Pope
Holy Comforter – St Cyprian Parish

First, knowing that I’ll probably draw their fire now – ask St. Gabriel the Archangel to afflict Facebook.  Ask St. Isidore of Seville, or other saints to whom you regularly raise requests for intecession, to bring about a conversion to common sense of those who run Facebook.

Secondly, follow @MsgrPope on Twitter!   Follow me, too!  @FatherZ

Thirdly, consider another networking option for the Day When They Start Arresting Us: Ham Radio

And here is a video from Fox News which picked up the story about Msgr. Pope.

I also joined AWESTRUCK – a Catholic alternative to Facebook. HERE


UPDATE 22 August:

From a reader…

I saw Msgr. Pope at an anti-Planned Parenthood protest this morning.  He says he is reinstated on Facebook but he did have to drop “Msgr.” from his name.  He put it in the banner.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, You must be joking! and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. TC says:

    What a load of [expletive].
    My wife is an evangelical and she has FB friends with usernames like “Bishop Bob —“, “Apostle Walter —” and, my favorite, “Prophetess Serena —“.

  2. robtbrown says:

    He has been give the bounce by the excretable Facebook – not for having only one gender – but for having the actual real title “Monsignor”.


  3. MBinSTL says:

    Facebook’s “real name” policy does not allow for a title in a profile’s name – no exceptions, and they don’t care about the nature of the title nor how long it’s been used as part of someone’s FB profile. So, “Dr.”, “Prof.”, etc. – all those are right out when it comes to a profile name. Their policy also disallows using, say, one’s “religious” name, as opposed to one’s legal first name and last name.

    I’m not going to defend the policy, but it is what it is, and has been that way for a long time. Over the past couple of years, especially, they have upped their enforcement of it. Many FB users, especially long-time users, are unaware of the policy until they get “zapped” by it.

    I have several priest friends who have had their accounts “zapped” in the past year, i.e. for having “Father” or “Fr.” or “Father-” as part of their first name. The solution for them, and it would work for the good monsignor too, is to make use of the “nickname” field of a Facebook profile, which ends up displayed below the proper name. For example, a priest named “John Smith” could set his nickname as “Fr. Smith”, or “Father John”, or just “Father”, or whatever variation is desired. I set my own to the Arabic letter ? as a sign of solidarity with Christians persecuted in the Middle East.

    Facebook may eventually cave on this policy – it’s generating a lot of complaints and public attention across a huge demographic spectrum. However, they’re not going to make individual exceptions and who knows if /when the policy will change. So my recommendation, to avoid rolling the dice with one’s FB profile, is to change one’s profile name to his or her legal name, and make use of the nickname field, as I suggested above. While some users may find it irritating to make the change, it’s much more irritating to have to jump through all the hoops to have an account reactivated after it’s been suspended. One friend of mine found the reactivation process so frustrating, that he simply let his old account go and opened a new one, but then he had to rebuild his friends list, be re-added to FB groups for which he was an admin, etc.

    Another option, of course, is to simply stop using Facebook. But for many people, it serves as an important communications platform, substituting for email with its messaging, groups and event scheduling features.

  4. juergensen says:

    I did a quick search on Facebook (using my wife’s account) for users named “Monsignor”, and instantly Facebook listed “Monsignor Humphries”, “Monsignor Michael Billian”, “Monsignor Aaron Brodeski”, “Monsignor Christopher H. Nalty”, et al. Riiight. The problem is with Monsignor Charles Pope’s use of “Monsignor”, not with what Monsignor Charles Pope writes. Right?

  5. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I’m largely with MBinSTL on this one. The policy (on titles) is what it is and seems applied across the board. I would like to have “Dr.” on my fb page, but I can’t. So? Note, btw, that “public figure” pages can have titles worked into the names, as in Raymond Cardinal Burke and Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

  6. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    I guess Mgr. Pope entered “Monsignor Charles” into his first name box before Facebook gave its clients fifty-odd bizarre title choices to choose from (which probably still doesn’t include Monsignor).

  7. Joseph-Mary says:

    Father Richard Heilman also cannot use ‘Father’ and so when I was invited to the spiritual combat, I wondered who that lay person was.

    Are Senators allowed their title? Rather silly that the titles of respect cannot be used.

  8. MWindsor says:

    And people are still amazed when I tell them that I got off Facebook four years ago and never looked back.

  9. PostCatholic says:

    I know! They did the same thing to me! Took away my “HRH Prince!”

  10. majuscule says:

    I joined Awestruck and within a few hours I was asked to join the Latin Mass group that I didn’t even know existed. I was still feeling my way around.

    My Real Name™ account on Facebook shares a lot of Catholic things on FB, so joining a Catholic social media site seemed natural. Maybe I will find even more things there to share on FB and annoy my real life non-Catholic liberal FB friends.

  11. iamlucky13 says:

    It’s a bizarre, pointless, and antagonistic policy, but Facebook does seem to have a policy that consistently forbids any titles.

    There is less consistency in enforcement, so I’m a little unclear how priests get so consistently shut out of Facebook for “falsifying their names” or however the notice is worded, while others escape notice, but I’ve heard from several priests who have run afoul of this. I’d guess about half accept the policy for the sake of continuing to reach those who for whatever reason use Facebook as more than merely a casual social interaction site, and half leave Facebook.

  12. poohbear says:

    The only way FB would look into this is if someone complained. They need to look into all the profiles with obviously made up names instead.

    Maybe he should change to a public figure page?

  13. Kent Wendler says:

    The very first impression I got when I ran across FB years ago were how extremely the users were to the whims and vicissitudes of the web site runners, plus (and possibly resulting in) a loss of one’s privacy. So for me the possible benefits have always been hugely outweighed by the potential negatives.

    A few blogs, email and some web forums have always sufficed for me.

  14. Father G says:

    Fr. Moses, a Byzantine Catholic monk and deacon of Holy Resurrection Monastery in Nazianz, WI, was informed recently that he could not use his religious name on Facebook: http://www.thecompassnews.org/2015/08/byzantine-monk-has-answer-to-facebook-name-regulation/

  15. danielinnola says:

    I am no fan of Facebook, but in all fairness they did recently crack down on cross dressers using their “drag” names..

  16. They did the same thing to me during Holy Week of this year. It’s nearly impossible to communicate with “officials” from Facebook, but I was able to get in touch with someone. I did everything I could to convince them to keep my name as “Father Jason Worthley.” However, they would not budge.

  17. APX says:

    Meanwhile how many pedophiles and rapists are lurking behind fake profiles luring in their next victims?

  18. frbkelly says:

    I am glad to see this being discussed.
    I joined Facebook in 2008 against my better judgment, since I find their facile use of the word “friend” to have the effect of cheapening true human friendships.
    I tried to sign up with my title (Fr. or Reverend) I considered it (and still do) rather important to be identified as a priest in discussions involving things religious. For much the same reason that I wear my clerics all the time.

    Anyway, when I asked technical support why I could not use my title, I first received a reply about their policy of no titles. When I followed up by pointing out numerous instances where this policy was not followed, I received a _very_ rudely worded reply attacking the priesthood specifically.

    In response, I told them to cancel my account. A couple of years later, when I checked, I found that they had not cancelled my account but merely deactivated it.

    I have refused to use Facebook on these grounds and others ever since. It is important to recognize that FB is _not_ a medium of communication so much as a business with its own agenda which hosts the discusssions that it allows.

    It seems to me that we Catholics are numerous enough to have our own discussion forums. Thank you Fr. Z!

  19. WmHesch says:

    Monsignor has always struck me as funny when priests print it in their bulletins, correspondence, etc. The “traditional” rule of etiquette seems to eschew the title by which one is addressed in favor of the title that calls for him to be addressed as such (e.g., “Chaplain of His Holiness” or “Protonotary Apostolic” or what have you).

    After all- the “mon” in “Monsignor” presupposes the one speaking it is not the one being addressed.

    Rank-and-file Catholics seem to think of Monsignori as staff sgts. of sorts between priest and bishop, when in fact the title is assigned- by custom- to just about the entire hierarchy.

    I, for one, have the civil title of Honorable- but would never put that on my calling card… Or my Facebook page. Just sayin’

  20. Nan says:

    I’m a conscietious objector.

  21. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I don’t participate on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media platforms. As I did 20+ years ago, I participate in public comboxes, and use my own name, never hiding behind monikers. As a result, I don’t have much contact with family, most of whom seem to communicate with each other only on these platforms. Some former students of mine established a Facebook page for me, but it’s not mine.

    Msgr Pope isn’t hiding. When one has a common name (and, no offence, but Charles and Pope are relatively common names) I can see how Msgr would be a useful way of distinguishing from among the other Charles Popes.

  22. MWindsor says:

    Fr. Z – as far as awestruck goes – We now have a radio forum:


  23. andia says:

    I just joined Awestruck…I am @andi there. Feel free to get in touch

  24. majuscule says:

    danielinnola says:
    21 August 2015 at 6:02 PM
    I am no fan of Facebook, but in all fairness they did recently crack down on cross dressers using their “drag” names..

    I read that FB finally allowed them to use their drag names. Maybe not. I can’t find a link right off.

  25. One of the things I like about running my own web sites is that I get to make all the rules and regulations, and I don’t have to deal with cultural bureaucracies. If I want to be known as “Supreme Grand Webmaster of SAUCCI.NET,” I am that. If I want to call myself “Exceedingly Modest Humble Proprietor of SAUCCI.NET,” I can be that as well. I never had a Facebook account and now am really happy that I do not and almost certainly never will.

  26. MouseTemplar says:

    OK. Packing my few belongings and moving out of FB.

    Ham radio test scheduled second Friday of September.

  27. MKR says:

    Facebook gives you something like 52 different genders, and I don’t know how many sexual orientations, to choose from. But if you want to be called “Monsignor,” well, get lost.

  28. pelerin says:

    If Pope Francis decided to go on Facebook I wonder if he would have to just be ‘Francis’? There must be a large number of Francis in the world and surely a title helps to differentiate between people. Seems like a daft rule of Facebook.

  29. frbkelly says:

    pelerin said: If Pope Francis decided to go on Facebook I wonder if he would have to just be ‘Francis’? There must be a large number of Francis in the world and surely a title helps to differentiate between people. Seems like a daft rule of Facebook.

    According to their claimed policy, he would have to be Jorge or George.

  30. Jack Orlando says:

    Facebook (hereafter “FB”) is a stickler for real names as they appear on verifiable documents, such as a driver’s license and a passport. And rightly so, and most likely not for “autocratic and ideological” reasons. The reason is to prevent identity theft and fraud. I found this out the hard way.

    Last week an imposter set himself as me on FB. I don’t think he hacked me; he simply copied my cover photo and personal photo, set up FB account with these photos and my name, and the blocked me so that I wouldn’t find out. The imposter proceeded to email some of my FB friends making a fraudulent appeal for information and money.

    One of my friends told me. I had to set up a new FB account under my real name. FB locked me out of my new FB account and demanded a photo ID, probably because the imposter reported myself to be an impostor. I scanned my driver’s licence, uploaded it and sent it to FB. The next day I was unlocked. Then I went to the impostor’s page, clicked the three dots at the top, and reported it as identity theft. I assume FB demanded from him also a photo ID, which he certainly doesn’t have with my name. The next day the impostor’s FB page was gone, and I got a note from FB saying that he had been disabled for impersonation, and that my name wasn’t sent to him.

    I don’t think FB is asking for the Moon. Does Msgr Pope have his title on his driver’s license? his passport? If not, I don’t think he will give up these documents. I thank MBinSTL for beating me to the rest of the explanation. He is quite right to observe for many people, [FB] serves as an important communications platform, substituting for email with its messaging, groups and event scheduling features. I add that one human being in seven on the face of the earth has a FB page. Many professionals and businesses are forgoing a webpage and are using FB and FB groups. Even some restaurants, which otherwise never read their email, are taking reservations on FB. I expect FB soon to eat Skype’s lunch. Such is the the 21st Century; email, telephone, and webpages are so 20th Century, going the way of the telegraph and snail mail. Luddites never when against machinery and technology – unless they are Amish.

  31. Jack Orlando says:

    should be “never win”

  32. Marlon says:

    I just did a little searching on Facebook and found senators and priests listed with their titles, so this policy appears not to be uniformly enforced. By the way, I saw senators of widely differing political views on the list, so I don’t see a pattern.

  33. jhayes says:

    Here is Cardinal Burke’s Facebook Page. Notice the words “Public Figure” below the name “Raymond Cardinal Burke”


    “Public Figure” is a specific type of Facebook page. It allows titles (Msgr., Fr, Bishop, Senator, etc) whereas a standard Facebook page does not.

    You just have to set it up as a “Public Figure” page to begin with.

  34. Sonshine135 says:

    Facebook: Where good friendships go to die. My friends list, especially Catholic friends, got much smaller after the Supreme Court Ruling on redefining marriage. Neat to see Awestruck. I may have to join.

  35. The Masked Chicken says:

    One of seven people may be on Facebook, but seven of seven people have an appendix (okay, 6.99999 in 7). Many people can have an association with a useless thing.

    That being said, Facebook fits right in with the shallow lives many people lead. 3000 “friends?” A friend isn’t a friend unless you know their name off of the top of your head. 3000 friends? Okay, name them, all.

    The Chicken

  36. stephen c says:

    Meanwhile Twitter seems to have left up for more than a year a clearly fake English language account under (Spanish-speaking) Cardinal Maradiaga’s name in which monogamy is insulted, polygamy is praised, the word of the Lord is twisted in a “subversive” and sanctimoniously “politically correct” way, and Cardinal Maradiaga is otherwise, probabably unbeknownst to himself, mocked by clever people who probably do not like him very much.

  37. benedetta says:

    Down with the facebook! There is a new cool place to hangout: be a ham. No, be the maquis. No, be the maquis ham!

  38. OlderCatholic says:

    I just searched facebook for “Bishop” and found seven Bishops in the first two minutes, including Anglican Bishop Spong. This policy is not being evenly enforced.

  39. frjim4321 says:

    There must not be enough real news these days.

    Anyway, a title isn’t part of a name.

    Problem solved.

  40. Pingback: RECENT POSTS and THANKS! | Fr. Z's Blog

  41. Pingback: Facebook demands Monsignor Charles Pope drop his title | The Catholic Legate

  42. Giuseppe says:

    Facebook did let him keep the name “Pope”, however.

    This seems to be a kerfuffle over nothing. As noted above by many, Msgr. Pope can keep his title on Facebook if he turns his personal profile into a page (e.g. a public figure page), and that titled people everywhere are going to lose their titles.

    It resonates, though, with many Roman Catholics who feel persecuted in public spheres, as another example of a Planned Parenthood-contributing liberal elite corporation disrespecting those who value religion and tradition.

  43. Pingback: MONDAY EXTRA – Big Pulpit

  44. streamer85 says:

    Msgr Post gave a slight too much light to Facebook darkness tendencies.

  45. Supertradmum says:

    Anti-Catholicism is alive and well, even on line. This is the tip of the iceberg.

Comments are closed.