Very busy today, and I could have written a longer post on this subject, but given that I gave some thought
to this last time round, briefly-researched thoughts on the name the next pope might take.Leo XIV
was favourite at bookmakers Paddy Power the last time I looked; it has associations with strong papal authority (especially Leo I, 440-461) and the marriage of evolving pastoral needs and conservative theology (Leo XIII, 1878-1903) which would probably appeal to many cardinals.Gregory XVII
would be a name evoking similar associations with papal authority, but also with the reforms of Gregory VII in the eleventh century. The name could be reclaimed from associations with the reactionary nineteenth-century pontiff Gregory XVI.Nicholas VI
appeals to me as bringing a papal name neglected since the fifteenth century back into use. As well as religious orthodoxy (the career of St Nicholas of Myra), generosity and present-giving (St Nicholas's subsequent emergence as Santa Claus) the name has associations with papal authority, given the drive of Nicholas I (858-867) for a monarchical authoritative papacy in the ninth century, and the establishment of the college of cardinals as the electoral body for the papacy in the eleventh century under Nicholas II (1058-1061).Eugene V
might suggest compromise given the openness to a conciliar approach promised by the last pope to bear that name, Eugene IV (1431-1447), but his inconsistent ways of keeping that promise led to chaos in church and the Papal State.Clement XV
would revive an old standby associated with Rome and the early church (Clement I, c.91-c.101, as well as the later church father St Clement of Alexandria) and with eleventh-century reform (Clement II, 1046-47) as well as the establishment of Catholicism on the American continent (Clement VII, 1523-34). The papacy of Clement XIV (1769-74) is associated with the shame of his suppression of the Jesuits, though at the time it was widely understood as a welcome rapprochement with the leaders of the European laity, something which some commentators think is necessary today.
An unlikely name which crossed my mind when looking at the Bohemian origins of Christoph Schoenborn was Sergius V
, as Sergius II was pope when the leaders of the Czechs volunteered for baptism in the 840s. However, this action had nothing to do with the papacy, which was going through one of its weaker phases of influence over the western church at the time, and the subsequent popes Sergius III and Sergius IV were both mired in the decadence and corruption of Roman politics, which critics of the Vatican might think too appropriate in all the wrong ways. Given that in francophone countries the next pope Sergius would be known as Serge V
, this would lead to numerous mash-ups of the hapless pontiff blessing away with Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin breathlessly performing 'Je t'aime...moi non plus' on the soundtrack, which I suspect would not be wanted.