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

(page 2 of 3)

The preferential option for the poor that it advocated became a rallying cry in Latin America, which is why a candidate from the region - Brazil’s Cardinal Odilo Scherer is the one most frequently mentioned - might choose this evocative name.

The name will first be heard when a fellow cardinal emerges on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to announce “habemas papam” - we have a pope - to the crowd gathered in the square.

Pius, last used by Pius XII from 1939 to 1958, would signal a staunch conservative while John, which recalls his successor John XXIII from 1958 to 1962, could refer either to a compassionate pastor or a reformer.

John XXIII was a jovial type who convened the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) that led to some reforms the last two popes rejected and devoted their papacies to reining in.

Milan’s Cardinal Angelo Scola, another top contender, might choose Pius, the second name in the betting list. In a sermon on Sunday, he said the next pope should guide the Church “in the footsteps marked by the great popes of the last 150 years”.

There were four popes named Pius in the last century and a half, all of them distinctly conservative and believers in a strong centralised papacy with the most recent of them still a figure of controversy over his role during World War Two.

Pius IX (1846-1878) rejected democracy, Pius X (1903-1914) denounced modern liberal politics and Pius XI (1922-1939) is remembered as an autocratic ruler. Under Pius XII (1939-1958), the Church cracked down on liberal theologians.

While the name might imply a strongly orthodox papacy to Catholic prelates, Jews would most vividly recall bitter inter-faith debates over Pius XII and accusations he failed to stand up to Hitler and Mussolini during World War Two.


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!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • 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."
  • 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.