"Our Pontificate", "My Pontificate"

A link was provided on another thread to Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul. I noticed that at the end of the encyclical it says “Given at St Peters, Rome…in the year 1968, the sixth of Our pontificate”. Previous popes also referred to the nth year of Our pontificate, yet Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI refer to it as “my pontificate”. Does anyone know what was meant by earlier popes who used the word “Our” - did they mean to show that they were sharing in the reign of Christ? And why did Pope John Paul II change it to the singular “My pontificate”?

Royalty have traditionally spoken in the first person plural, e.g. the famous phrase attributed to Queen Victoria; “We are not amused”. I suppose recent Popes are trying to show humility by using the “common” first person singular.

The royal “we” was a common practice that once was and sometimes still is used in many European languages. It was an archaic usage that John Paul II did away with for most of his writings. Benedict XVI has been known to use both the “Royal We” and the normal singular first person. Neither had any more significance than it being the normal way for royalty to speak and write. As times changed it was done away with, but is now returning for its traditional value (I think).

Btw: it was a something that developed as far back as ancient Rome so it is a long standing traditional form of “royal speak”.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.