Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What name will the new pope pick?

I have no idea what thoughts go through a man's head as he's contemplating being chosen pope. How do they pick a name, for example? I suspect many, if not most, of the cardinals who will vote in the conclave have considered the possibility they may be elected; and if so, they've thought about a name.

In any case, I note that popes have, for a very long time, taken a name someone else had before them. The last pope who wasn't the 2nd or sixteenth (not counting John Paul I) was Pope Lando in AD 913!

A pope can use any name; he needn't take a new name at all. But considering it has been 1,100 years of the same thing, breaking such a precedent would be rather startling, and I don't know why a new pope would want to start that way. So I'm guessing the next pope will not be ____ the 1st.

So what might it be? And what would the choice signify?

How about:

Benedict XVI? It seems to happen a lot--two popes in a row with the same name.
John Paul III? I doubt it, because it might seem as a commentary on Benedict XVI.
Paul VII: Let's revisit Vatican II. And let's talk about Humanae Vitae!
John XXIV: because it might be fun to see just how many Popes John we can rack up.
Pius XIII: this would scare some people.
Leo XIV: this would really be a curve-ball.
Gregory XVII: this cool name has been in mothballs long enough! (Last used in 1846.)
Clement XV: the previous Clement suppressed the Jesuits and knighted 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart.

Going further back, we come up with: Innocent XIV; Alexander IX; Urban IX; Sixtus VI; Marcellus III; Julius IV; Callixtus IV; Nicholas VI; Eugene V; Martin VI; and Boniface X.

So what would you like to suggest, and why?

(And, before someone suggests it, I doubt anyone is going to dub himself "Peter II"--that'll really mess with people's minds as well. But why not Linus II?)


Thom said...

Father, I'm pretty sure the world would implode if there was ever a Sixtus the Sixth!

Pedro Erik said...

What about Celestine VI? It would be strange since Celestine V and Benedict XVI both renunced. But, Benedict XVI likes Saint Celestine V.

Gail Finke said...

Callixtus because that sounds like a video game character and everyone wants to the Church to be "modern" and all. But I have a feeling Callixtus wouldn't take anything from anyone!

Fr. Ron said...

In the unlikely chance I get elected, I'm going with the name Bubba the first!

TerryC said...

How about Lando II, since you brought him up? though considering he was one of the Saeculum obscurum popes not exactly a good sign.

Jenni said...

"It seems to happen a lot--two popes in a row with the same name."

It does? I remember when JP II took the same name as his predecessor hearing that this was the first time in the history of the church that two consecutive popes had the same name.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Well, take a look at this list of popes. (I would scroll down and work from the present backward.)

You'll note Pius XII immediately followed Pius XI; in the 18th century, Pius VII followed right after Pius VI; right before them were two Clements in a row, and so it goes on back. There are two many names for me to say how often it happens, but it happens.

Then, if you allow for those that come in close proximity, but not right on the heels of each other, you'll find three or four of the same name very close to each other. For example, Pius VI, VII, VIII and IX were all pretty close to each other between 1775 and 1846; and then Pius X, XI and XII all pretty close to each other in the 20th century.

And it's not just guys named Pius. You'll see a bunch of Clements and Innocents in close proximity to each other too.

Anonymous said...

A lutheran acquaintance of mine once said he would have converted on the spot if Cardinal Ratzinger had chosen Pope Vader I as his name. :)

John F. Kennedy said...

"because it might be fun to see just how many Popes John we can rack up." That's pretty good!

John F. Kennedy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm for Cletus II, Victor III, or Urban IX (because I am studying architecture)