How to Refer to Pope Benedict XVI?


#1

I’m a Catholic Studies minor at my university and one of the professors I recently had relied heavily on the writings of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Throughout the course of the semester, my professor would use “Benedict” and “Ratzinger” interchangeably and actually would use “Ratzinger” more often which I am guessing is because most of the writings we discussed were written when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. I also started reading a book on “the Dialogical Theology of Joseph Ratzinger.”

As I delve more into the writings of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, I was wondering, when discussing his theological writings, how can we or how do we properly address him? The way I have done it is that if I am referring to something he wrote before he became pope, I call him Ratzinger (In X, Ratzinger says…) and if it was written during his papacy, I use Benedict.

However, what about when describing the whole of his writings? He is Pope Emeritus now, but when he wrote a majority of that he was Cardinal Ratzinger.

What about the Jesus of Nazareth series? They have both Joseph Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI! I think for that one my professor used both interchangeably while using Ratzinger more.

Sorry if this is a silly question, I have been wondering this and could appreciate some answers.


#2

I would do as you note. What he wrote as Pope or during being Pope prior to Emeritus - I say Pope Benedict XVI or Benedict XVI. Including The Jesus of Nazareth Series.

(though with what he wrote before being Pope I might say "Pope Benedict before he was Pope or when he was Cardinal…etc)

What* I do not do* is say “Pope Emeritus” when referring to what he wrote as Pope – but rather as “*Pope Benedict XVI *wrote” -if someone does otherwise they will get a snowball thrown at them :wink: by me.


#3

Depending on when it is written . Either; Cardinal Ratzinger or Pope Benedict.


#4

Pope Benedict is fine. Just as we address the (late) Pope John Paul…


#5

I think Ratzinger would be most appropriate in that case. It’s not as if he stopped being Ratzinger, he became Benedict. It is certainly more appropriate to address him as Benedict after he took that name, but it’s not technically incorrect to call him Ratzinger, and so I think using his family name when discussing the entirety of his theological work is a more correct and less awkward approach than other choices.


#6

Definitely the easiest ! :thumbsup:


#7

In scholarly writings, I usually introduce him the first time as “Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI” if I’m using his writings from before he was pope, and “Ratzinger” afterwards. If I’m citing writings from when he was pope, I always use “Pope Benedict XVI.”


#8

Upon his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI stated that he would be referred to as "Benedict XVI, pope emeritus. This is how he should be addressed in writing.


#9

As far as his writings, it seems that as a rule of thumb:

Before Pontificate: Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger or Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

During Pontificate: Pope Benedict XVI

After Pontificate (if we are so blessed that he writes new books): Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI


#10

That would be rather cumbersome to use again and again while discussing the man or his works, and could be potentially confusing if referring to works he wrote before or during his papacy, as opposed to after.

The Pope, as our current one loves to remind us, is the bishop of Rome. The Romans, our current Pope among them, have no qualms about referring to the current or former Roman Pontiff by their last name, e.g. Pope Ratzinger or Pope Bergoglio. That particular usage would confuse most English-speakers, but it demonstrates that there is nothing incorrect or inherently disrespectful about using a Pope’s last name.

Personally, I would use “Ratzinger” to refer to the author in a general sense, clarifying that he became/is also known as Pope Benedict XVI the first time I mention him. If what I was writing dealt entirely with his time as Pope I would use Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Benedict, Benedict XVI, or just Benedict depending on context and what feels right in the sentence. If I was referring to an earlier phase of his carrier I would refer to him as Joseph Ratzinger, perhaps giving whatever title or style was appropriate for whatever phase we are talking about, such as Fr. Ratzinger or Cardinal Ratzinger, though the first time I mentioned him I would add a little “later Pope Benedict XVI” or “now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.” When discussing the man in general, spanning the pre-Papal, Papal, and perhaps even the post-Papal phases of his career, I would probably use “Ratzinger” to refer to the author in a general sense, with the necessary clarifications.


#11

That would be rather cumbersome to use again and again while discussing the man or his works, and could be potentially confusing if referring to works he wrote before or during his papacy, as opposed to after.

The Pope, as our current one loves to remind us, is the bishop of Rome. The Romans, our current Pope among them, have no qualms about referring to the current or former Roman Pontiff by their last name, e.g. Pope Ratzinger or Pope Bergoglio. That particular usage would confuse most English-speakers, but it demonstrates that there is nothing incorrect or inherently disrespectful about using a Pope’s last name.

Personally, if what I was writing dealt entirely with his time as Pope I would use Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Benedict, Benedict XVI, or just Benedict depending on context and what feels right in the sentence. If I was referring to an earlier phase of his carrier I would refer to him as Joseph Ratzinger, perhaps giving whatever title or style was appropriate for whatever phase we are talking about, such as Fr. Ratzinger or Cardinal Ratzinger, though the first time I mentioned him I would add a little “later Pope Benedict XVI” or “now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.” When discussing the man in general, spanning the pre-Papal, Papal, and perhaps even the post-Papal phases of his career, I would probably use “Ratzinger” to refer to the author in a general sense, with the necessary clarifications.


#12

It is worth noting that the Italian media frequently refers to the Popes by their surnames, even in office. You will see plenty of “Papa Bergoglio” in current writings.

Here is an article from today, 1/1/2014, in Italian.
Here is an article about Benedict and Francis from December 27. Note that Emeritus Pope Benedict is referred to interchangeably as Ratzinger and Benedict XVI, even in the photo caption.

However, it is not common for writers of English to use this convention. I would go with the convention that is common and accepted for the language and culture which you are targeting with your writing.


#13

That is true, I remember of hearing of papa Ratti and Pacelli, then I got to know papa Roncalli, Montini, Luciani, Wojtyla, Ratzinger and now Bergoglio. It is strange because I use their chosen names when referring to the in time butI tend to use their last name when referring to their lives.


#14

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