Monday, 18 March 2013

Pope Francis, not Pope Francis the First

Philip Harvey
Initial reaction to the new pope’s name included conjecture as to whether he was identifying his pontificate with St Francis of Assisi, or the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier. Statements from the pope himself confirmed that he had Assisi in mind, with emphasis on Francis’s commitment to a life of poverty and also to church reform.

Many English speakers got into a flurry of F’s, saying Francis the First. That he may never be Francis the First did not occur to them, not even the editors of that standard of all things Roman Catholic in England, The Tablet, who proudly announced the naming of Francis I on their website banner. Really, they ought to have known better. There is a simple reason why he is not Francis the First: there may never be another Pope Francis.

There have been many singular popes. There is Pope Formosus (tenure 891-896), who is famous in medieval history for his remains being exhumed and put on trial in the incredible Cadaver Synod. It would be more appropriate to call him Formosus the Last. Dead men tell no lies, and such is the notoriety of this legal farce that the election of any Formosus II would have been creepily ominous. Personal interest causes me to ponder the only Pope Philip, who was in fact an antipope and the Bishop of Rome for one day: July 31st in 768. Philip is the Apostle who is always asking questions, like what can we do with these barley loaves, and may have been judged too indecisive for a pope. Or maybe asked too many of the right questions. There is no Pope Philip II, nor do we talk about Peter I, despite the superstitious Malachite prophecy that the last pope will be named Peter II.

Queen Elizabeth was Queen Elizabeth for 350 years, only becoming the First in 1953. On the Ides of March this year the Vatican itself went to the trouble of clarifying this verbal stumbling block: “The new pope should be called Francis, not Francis I.” Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s savvy media person, remarked that the new pontiff was presented to the world with these Latin words: Cardinalem Bergoglio, qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum (i.e., Cardinal Bergoglio, who takes for himself the name of Francis). The word “Primum” (the first) wasn’t added. “It will remain Francis until a successor calls himself Francis II,” Lombardi said.

So why all the flurry of F’s? Modern memory is till close to the John Pauls, able to recall just how peculiar it was to be presented with a double-barrelled pope. When the Patriarch of Venice with the lovely name of Albino Luciani was elected pope in 1978 he took the names of his two immediate predecessors as his style. No one in September 1978 would have dreamt of calling him John Paul I, just calling him John Paul was a novelty in itself. His death 33 days later caused a second conclave, with the election of a Polish pope who picked up on the Venetian's name idea. John Paul I’s sudden death has been an interest of conspiracy theorists ever since, such that even today one friend of mine wondered how long Pope Francis had to go. Perhaps it is the memory of John Paul I that has people talking of Francis I, as though it won’t be long before Francis II, Francis III, and further flurries of F.

Fortunately some people still know how it’s done. Here is the Library of Congress Name Authority, just created, and which I leave you to enjoy. It will only require a global change if my friend’s expectations are unhappily fulfilled.

LC control no.:
no 99003356
LCCN permalink:
Francis, Pope, 1936-
02889cz a2200433n 450
990118n| azannaabn |b aaa c
__ |a no 99003356
__ |a (OCoLC)oca04899313
__ |a ICU |b eng |e rda |c ICU |d DLC
__ |f 19361217 |v Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, viewed Mar. 13, 2013
0_ |a Francis, |c Pope, |d 1936-
__ |a Buenos Aires, Argentina |v Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, viewed Mar. 13, 2013
__ |a Catholic Church. Archdiocese of Buenos Aires (Argentina) |2 naf |s 1992 |t 2013 |v Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, viewed Mar. 13, 2013
__ |a Jesuits |2 naf |s 1958 |v Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, viewed Mar. 13, 2013
__ |a Pope |s 2013
__ |a Cardinal |s 2001 |t 2013 |v Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, viewed Mar. 13, 2013
__ |a Bishop |s 1992 |v Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, viewed Mar. 13, 2013
__ |a male
__ |a spa
1_ |w nne |a Bergoglio, Jorge Mario, |d 1936-
1_ |a Bergoglio, Georgius Marius, |d 1936-
0_ |w nne |a Francis |b I, |c Pope, |d 1936-
0_ |a Franciscus, |c Pope, |d 1936-
0_ |a Francesco, |c Pope, |d 1936-
0_ |a François, |c Pope, |d 1936-
0_ |a Francisco, |c Pope, |d 1936-
0_ |a Frant︠s︡isk, |c Pope, |d 1936-
0_ |a Франциск, |c Pope, |d 1936-
2_ |a Catholic Church. |b Pope (2013- : Francis)
__ |a Non-Latin script reference not evaluated.
__ |a Diálogos entre Juan Pablo II y Fidel Castro, 1998: |b t.p. (Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Arzobispo de Buenos Aires) p. 7 (b. 1936)
__ |a Vatican: the Holy See, viewed Mar. 13, 2013 |b (in live video: "habemus Papam ... Georgium Marium ... Cardinalem Bergoglio, qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum"); Mar. 14, 2013 (habemus Papam Franciscum)
__ |a NEWS.VA, viewed Mar. 13, 2013 |b (Francesco I; François 1er; Francisco I; Francis I); Mar. 14, 2013 (Francis; Francesco; François; Francisco; Francis I)
__ |a LENTA.RU, viewed Mar. 13, 2013 |b (Новый папа Римский Франциск I = Novyĭ papa Rimskiĭ Frant︠s︡isk I)
__ |a Catholic News Service, viewed Mar. 14, 2013 |b (Mar. 13, 2013, Vatican City: Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was elected the 266th pope and took the name Francis I)
__ |a Los Angeles times (online), viewed Mar. 14, 2013 |b (The Vatican clarified Wednesday that the new pope, the first to take the name Francis, will be known as Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I. The Wednesday bulletin issued by the Vatican announcing his selection as pope called him simply Francis, as did the cardinal who announced his name from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. "It will become Francis I after we have a Francis II," Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi quipped to the Associated Press)
__ |c OCLC |e LSPC

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