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!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • 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.