Calling the Holy Father by his birth name

I have a few friends who I regularly talk to who are very good people but they are of the anti-Vatican II, SSPX sympathizer crowd. On occasion, they will refer to the Holy Father simply as “Bergoglio”. It always made me feel funny. I’ve always referred to the Pope as the “Holy Father” or “Pope Francis”. Is doing the former a form of disrespect? I know sometimes they will make some corny bad jokes about folk masses, etc but I would think that somebody who values their faith deeply would not intentionally belittle the Holy Father.

They are way out of line.

Traditional Catholics have always been strong on obedience to the Church, so I have to say that their behavior would make me disinclined to hang with them. You might consider that and be prepared to explain and defend your actions when and if they should inquire about it.

It’s not the action so much as the fact that it is symptomatic of a much more grave disorder.

I am cordial, but I have cut down going to lunch with them a lot. I tire of listening to 3 hour long discussions about Bishop Fellay, errors of Vatican II, etc etc. I have respect for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary form (I cantor the Latin Mass every Sunday). When I do go to lunch with them I’ve been trying more recently to divert the conversation to something else like history or sports, they are very intelligent guys but sometimes I feel like they get that “Holier than the Pope” complex.

It is common practice of the Italian press to refer to Popes by their surnames, and no disrespect is intended or taken.

Using his birth name is not inherently disrespectful, but when the SSPX types do it, they mean it as a crude insult. This should remind us of the very grave sinfulness of schism.

Well, there is only one Pope Francis, so referring to Pope Francis as Bergoglio could be seen as an intent to deny his claim to the Chair of St. Peter.

But the Church is not immune to confusion regarding Papal names and regent numbering (ordinals). There is ongoing confusion regarding the regent numbering of Popes named John, such that the Church entirely skipped over the regent name John-20 (even though there were Popes with regent names John 19 and John 21-23, there is no Pope John-20). This was caused by confusion over whether there were two Popes with regent numbers of John-14, and some sort of “damage control” to rectify the presumed error, which (in some circles) renumbered the ordinals of subsequent Pope Johns.

So, an SSPX advocate could claim that he was simply avoiding any possibility of ambiguity by citing the given name of a Pope. This would be credible if he did the same for EVERY Pope in history.

Remind them that the P in SSPX stands for Sarto.

The only times I have heard people do that, they were deliberately showing their disrespect for the Holy Father. And you’re right, someone who values their Catholic faith would NOT do that. It’s a very un-“traditional” attitude.

In fact, not only the Italian press, but generally in conversation in Italy, the pope is referred to by his surname. Papa Bergoglio - Pope Bergoglio or Papa Ratzinger - Pope Ratzinger.

I think these other people however, do it out of a sign of disrespect.

It is not true, however, that the SSPX is planning to change its name to SSS, for Society of St. Sarto.

To be fair, a lot of SSPX priests studied in Europe, so SSPX attendees may pick it up from them. But we don’t all live in Europe, so we don’t and shouldn’t have to say things in some European way. People who live in America should talk in a way that other Americans can understand.

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