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
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
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——-—-Nun | Sister