For Pope-to-Be, Choice of Name Means Plenty

Pius Seen as Slap at Jews, Leo Would Be Revolutionary

Lion of Rome: Pope Leo XIII was a progressive pontiff during the turn of the 20th century. A new pope might choose that name to signify a liberal bent.
getty images
Lion of Rome: Pope Leo XIII was a progressive pontiff during the turn of the 20th century. A new pope might choose that name to signify a liberal bent.

By Reuters

Published March 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Even before he utters his first words in public, the new pope who emerges from the conclave this week will send Roman Catholics around the world a message encoded in the name he chooses.

It may not be one they immediately understand. Picking an unlikely one from the distant papal past - for example, Hilarus or Zephyrinus - would send Catholics scurrying to their history books to see what it could mean.

But one harking back to modern popes - Benedict or John Paul or John - would signal right away the new leader of 1.2 billion faithful wants continuity with the papacy his name refers to.

One name making the rounds in Rome before the 115 cardinal electors filed into the Sistine Chapel for their conclave on Tuesday was Francis, a name Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley might take if he emerges as the new pontiff.

O’Malley is a Franciscan friar who prefers the brown habit and white rope belt of his Capuchin order to his red cardinal’s finery. No pope has ever taken the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, the 13th century reformer who lived in poverty and told followers: “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words.”

PROGRESSIVES AND CONSERVATIVES

Leo - Latin for “lion” - tops a list of bets placed with Paddy Power, a Dublin bookmaker putting odds on the next pope, his name and age.

The name has a progressive ring because the last to choose it, Leo XIII, helped adapt the Church to modern thinking about the industrial age during his papacy from 1878 to 1903.

His encyclical “Rerum Novarum” (Of New Things) was the first on social justice and defended the rights of workers. It argued that both communism and capitalism were flawed and that the state must work for the common good of all its citizens.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.