Pope Benedict Doesn’t Like All The New Fangled Names Kids Get These Days

For some reason, Pope Benedict chose to speak about parent’s choices of names for their children:

It will come as a welcome blast of commonsense for those who despair at the craze of giving children names such as Brooklyn, Apple and Princess Tiaamii.

The Pope has weighed into the debate with a plea to parents to give their children traditional first names.

Benedict XVI told a Vatican baptismal ceremony that the Christian name is an ‘indelible sign from the Holy Spirit’ and protects family life, which is ‘being threatened’

He said baptism with a strong name was ‘the start of spiritual life which is fulfilled through the Church’.


The Pope added: ‘With the sacrament of baptism the Church prays and entrusts to God a new child [and] parents and godparents agree to give the newly baptised a Christian education.

‘This is a great responsibility. That is why I encourage all the faithful to rediscover the beauty of baptism and being part of God’s great family.’

Theologian Gianni Gennari told an Italian newspaper: ‘By insisting on Christian names the Pope is not violating the rights of parents but simply asking for seriousness when it comes to baptism.’

Of course, one wonders why it would matter to God what your name is.

FILED UNDER: Religion, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Franklin says:

    I haven’t decided what’s worse: stupid made-up names or having every kid with the same name-du-jour. There was a girl’s high school basketball team a while back where all 5 starters had the same basic name of Caitlin/Katelyn/Kaitlyn/etc.

    Either way, I fully support your right to come up with awful names, and I fully reserve the right to make fun of them.

  2. Soon after issuing the statement, the Pope yelled out the Vatican window for those kids to get off his lawn.

  3. Franklin,

    Yea well try growing up in an area of New Jersey with a large Italian-American population. That scene in Goodfellas got it right — there were more Peter’s, Paul’s, and Marie’s than you could shake a stick at

  4. sam says:

    “Benedict XVI told a Vatican baptismal ceremony that the Christian name is an ‘indelible sign from the Holy Spirit’ and protects family life, which is ‘being threatened’”

    Extraordinary — I didn’t realize God speaks IndoEuropean languages exclusively.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that this needs to be understood in a European context. Until 1993 France severely restricted the first names that could be given to children—basically, the saints’ names in the calendar, some names from classical antiquity, and a handful of others. In Italy boys must have boys’ names and girls must have girls’ names. In Germany, the name given to a child must be approved by the authorities. It’s determined by the local Standesamt but, basically, the name must be gender-appropriate and must not endanger the welfare of the child. That’s sometimes construed rather broadly.

    In a European context Benedict isn’t saying anything particularly outrageous. He’s just repeating the conventional wisdom (and prevailing law in many European countries). Benedict is a European intellectual, after all.

  6. ALP says:

    It isn’t just the names people choose for their kids. It is the weird spelling they use.
    The children then have to live the rest of their lives putting up with others always misspelling their names.

  7. @ALP:

    On the one hand, I agree. And it is often difficult to know how to pronouncement them (as I learn every semester when I call roll for the first time in an effort to learn my students’ names).

    On the other, even having a “normal” name doesn’t mean that people will spell it correctly, as I can attest (Steven v. Stephen).

    Heck, my father’s name is Roy, which is rather hard to misspell, except that people have been mistakenly putting down “Ray” for decades (including in the newspaper birth announcement for one of us kids–I forget which one).

  8. sam says:

    For some reason, I’m reminded of this old joke. There was a time when Western Union, although they charged you per word for a telegram, did not charge you for your name. Sooooo, this guy sends a telegram to his wife:

    Hi, Honey.



  9. JKB says:

    Nice rhetoric but quite foolish to think a “Christian” name ties to the Holy Spirit. Adolph was a perfectly respectable name until Mrs. Hitler’s son ruined it for everyone. And Joseph is still a good Christian name but there are few million souls in heaven who don’t know what got into Stalin but it wasn’t the Holy Spirit.

    And what is Benedict, a name that reminds Americans of treason. Names given are fraught with risk. To weak and it doesn’t play well on TV, to strong and it might lead to unsavory behavior, to odd and it might cause a life of strife as in a boy name Sue. In the end, people selling drama seek certain names but the name does not have to define the person, unless of course their value is in their popularity to sell movies or music.

  10. wr says:

    Yes, giving your child a name the Pope doesn’t like gets you a stern talking to from His Eminence. Holding a position of power in the church and serially raping little boys gets you his protection.

    Good to know he’s got his priorities straight.

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    BTW, “His Holiness” is the proper term of address for the Pope; “His Eminence” would be the term for a cardinal.

  12. Be skeptical when you read news stories about the pope. This story is false. http://www.getreligion.org/2011/01/more-imaginary-papal-wars/