How to Address the Pope

How to Address the Pope or Pontiff | Roman Catholic

—-Traditional envelope or address block on letter or email:
——–His Holiness
—-—-The Pope
—-—-The Apostolic Palace
—-—-00120 Vatican City

—-Contemporary envelope or address block on letter or email::
——–His Holiness
——–Pope Francis
——–The Apostolic Palace
——–00120 Vatican City

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Your Holiness:
—-—-Most Holy Father:

—-—-Your Holiness

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address a Pope If You Are Non-Christian?

What is the appropriate form of address for the Pope in a letter from a non-Christian?
—-—-—-– DM

Dear DM,
Use the forms of address shown above. When you are outside the culture, using the standard forms of address shows respect the culture.  Everyone – subjects and non-subjects – addresses the Queen of the UK as ‘Your Majesty’.   ‘Holy Father’ is a typical salutation used by Catholics in correspondence. You might prefer to use ‘Your Holiness’.

Use the complimentary close ‘Very Respectfully’.  It is a standard closing for correspondence to high officials.

– Robert Hickey   How to Address the Pope

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Introduce the Pope?

I will be meeting the Pope. If I introduce him, would you say, ‘May I introduce the Holy Father, Pope (Name)’ or say, ‘May I present His Holiness’ and not his name in the introduction?

—-~ Meeting the Pope

Dear Meeting the Pope:

Call me psychic, but I doubt you will be introducing the Pope.  But that said, the Holy Father is so high he is never introduced to anyone: individuals are presented to the Holy Father. He requires no introduction: anyone about to meet the Pope already knows who he is.

When he enters the room he is announced …. an aide says so all can hear ‘His Holiness’ … and that’s pretty much it.

Perhaps you are being introduced to the Pope? In that case the introducer would say something like  ‘Your Holiness may I present (your name).’   When you acknowledge the introduction, his name is ever used.  If you address him – say, ‘Your Holiness.’

‘Not using the name’ is standard when addressing very high officials. For example, the Queen of the United Kingdom is never addressed as Queen Elizabeth … she is addressed as ‘Your Majesty’ The President of the United States (POTUS) is addressed as ‘Mr. President’ in direct conversation: not ‘President (Name)’ in spite what you have encountered in the media.

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address a Retired Pope?

How do you address a former pope of the Roman Catholic Church? I bet you never considered that!
————-– B. E. in Georgia

Dear B.E.,

I did not considered it, it seems like the Roman Catholic Church didn’t either.  The Church didn’t define a form of address for a retired pope in its modern literature.

I don’t define how anyone is addressed … I just keep track of how current organizations address their current and former officials – so those of us outside their domain can correctly address them.

Now Roman Catholic Church has established there can be a former office holder.

Some would have guessed that Pope Benedict would return to the form of address to which he was entitled before assuming office: cardinal. There are retired cardinals. Having a retired cardinal addressed in the same way as current cardinals presents no confusion, Being a cardinal is not a singular (only-one-office-holder-at-a-time) position.

—-#1) For example, when Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son Willem-Alexander in 2013, she returned to the form of address to which she was entitled prior to taking office: Princess.

—-#2) However, in the UK, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (1900-2002), the Queen Mother (mother of Queen Elizabeth II, the present British sovereign (chief of state), and the widow of King George VI) – continued to be addressed as Your Majesty when her daughter assumed the throne without much mishap. In Belgium where for a period before the death of Fabiola in 2014, there were three queens: Queen Fabiola (1960-1993), her successor Queen Paola (1993-2013), and the current Queen Mathilde (2013- ), all addressed as Your Majesty.

These situations are a bit different, but they show how other hierarchies have dealt with titles when there is more than one office holder in a typically one-office-holder-at-a-time office.

– Robert Hickey

See These Related Links:
—-—-Mother Superior
—-—-Nun | Sister

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”