First clue to new pope will be his first name—in Latin

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The first clue to the identity of the new pope will be the announcement of his first name—in Latin.

Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, the top-ranked cardinal-deacon, was to say, in Latin, "I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope: His most Eminent and Reverend Lordship, Lord…" followed by the Latin version of the cardinal's first name.

If Cardinal Medina said, "Lord Zeno," everyone would know the new pope was Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, until recently prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. They would not have to wait for Cardinal Medina to announce the new pope's last name.

But if the cardinal said "Ioannes" things would be much more complicated. Nine cardinals' names begin Juan, Jean or Giovanni, the equivalent of John.

Six cardinals' first names are variations of "Iosephus" (Joseph) and six are named "Franciscus" (Francis).

Four are named after the apostle Peter, "Petrus."

The 115 cardinals who entered the Sistine Chapel for the conclave included three "Carolus," like Pope John Paul II, the former Karol Wojtyla; three named "Antonius"; and three "Georgius."

Fides, the Vatican's missionary news agency, published a list of the cardinals' names in Latin April 18, the day the conclave started.

Apparently there are limits to translation possibilities: Fides said Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, England, would be called "Cormac" in Latin.


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