- The Washington Times - Friday, August 21, 2015

Roman Catholic priest Monsignor Charles Pope was told earlier this week that he could no longer use his title on his Facebook page. 

Father Pope, from the Washington area, has held his title in the church for ten years and used it on Facebook for six years. 

“More people call me ‘Monsignor’ than call me ‘Charles,’” he told FoxNews.com on Thursday.

But Facebook this week sent Father Pope a message informing him that he would no longer be able to use the title because they thought it was fake. 

“I thought it was a scam,” Father Pope told Fox. 

Facebook’s policy is to not allow titles on personal site profiles, a spokesman told Fox, something that goes for religious figures just as much as for politicians and celebrities. 

There is more flexibility for a Facebook “page” commonly used by public figures. 

“I thought, this is a strange abuse of power — and why should they care?” said Father Pope, who is assigned to Holy Comforter St. Cyprian Parish.

“‘Monsignor Charles Pope’ is the name I routinely go by. I’m a priest and I’m always called ‘Monsignor’ or ‘Father.’ This is the name I go by.” 

Father Pope said he has seen other Christian, Jewish and Muslim figures use their titles on their personal Facebook pages. While he told Fox he doesn’t believe he’s being singled out by Facebook for his religious beliefs, he thinks someone must have personally flagged his profile to bring it to the company’s attention. 

“Facebook is entitled to do whatever they want,” Father Pope said, Fox reported. “I jut think it’s incredibly foolish on their part to try and treat people this way. I can understand if people have something ugly or nefarious or scurrilous in their name.” 

Father Pope supplied several forms of identification to Facebook and said his service had been restored as of Wednesday night, but now he logs in as “Charles Pope.” 

But he has changed his cover photo on his profile to a photo of the inside of a church with the caption “Msgr. Charles Pope.” 

“I’m going to stay in this conversation,” he said, Fox reported. “I’m not going to go away quietly.”

Facebook’s request is puzzling given the company’s emphasis on allowing users to express their individual identities however they chose.

“Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to user their legal names,” The Company’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, wrote in an apology last year to “drag queens, drag kings, transgender” and other members of the LGBT community who had not been allowed to use their stage names on the site.

“The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life,” Mr. Cox wrote. “For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess.”  

When asked about Facebook’s inclusive spirit and whether that could be applied toward figures with religious titles, a spokesperson for the site said the current policy stood and was not up for review, Fox reported. 


• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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