Sunday, February 24, 2013

Papal names

The Roman Catholic Church will soon be electing a new pope.  I don't know how much political or theological debate and jockeying will be going on amongst the many cardinals from the around the world.  My interest is one of spectator.  For better or for worse, the Pope is the most visible Christian, particularly Christian clergy, in the world.

I have always wondered how the Pope picks his new, papal name.  Is there a list of some sort which suggests front runners?  By his new name, does the new pope associate himself with popes of similar names?  What would an entirely new name suggest?  (I'm not holding my breath for the first "Pope Luther".)

Maybe there is some kind of papal name generator.  If not, perhaps they can use this one:

If they had gone this route before, we could have enjoyed some rather colorful papal names.  For example, instead of Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla could have become Pope Pink Panther.  Instead of  Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger could have been Pope Death Blade.  (As it turns out, I also would have been "Death Blade.")  Okay, perhaps the papal name generator offers some more dignified selections, but I still wonder why they pick what they do.

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