I did set a few ground rules for myself. Most importantly, I looked over the list of pope names through the centuries and decided to choose among them for the names that I think need to be resurrected (as it were). Here is my modest list of finalists and the reasons for their inclusion (Roman numerals indicate what the new pope’s name would be, e.g., the last pope was named Benedict XVI, so the new pope could be Benedict XVII):
Innocent XIV – Come on, how cool a name would that be? NOBODY names their kid Innocent anymore. Plus, it would be an insurance policy against bad press. I mean, how can you believe bad things about someone when the writer has to accuse Innocent of doing it?
Urban IX – Doesn’t sound old-fashioned at all. Sounds very hip and up to date. Sure to connect with the kids.
Lando II – Yes! There was a Pope Lando from 913 to 914. Once again, an opportunity for the church to connect with a huge new audience.
Sixtus VI – I just like the way “Sixtus the Sixth” rolls off the tongue.
Marcellus III – You have to like anybody whose namesake is a character in The Music Man. If there had ever been a Pope Winthrop, he’d totally be on this list.
Callistus IV – Just so old school. Puttin’ the Roman back in Roman Catholic.
Eugene V – It’s like Revenge of the Nerds set in Rome.
Hilarius II – No really, you could look it up. Hilarius the First was pope from 461 to 468. If the new guy picks this name, I’m converting.
– Okay, this one is new to the papacy. But Prince isn’t using it anymore, and in this multimedia, electronic era, why couldn’t the pope’s name be an unpronounceable symbol?
As always, I will happily accept any additional suggestions.