Celebrity Names Blog

Pope Takes a Stand on Weird Baby Names, Leaves a Loophole

Pope Takes a Stand on Weird Baby Names, Leaves a Loophole
Fame Pictures

Please let it be true.

That's what we thought when we read today's Pope-related baby name headlines:  "Pope Rails Against Un-Christian Names," reads one, and "Pope Begs Christian Parents to Avoid Offbeat Names." Also: "Despite Pope's Disapproval, Designer Baby Names Flourish" and "Look to Bible, not Hollywood: pope."  We were so hoping His Holiness had gone on a rampage ("railed"!) in which he slagged Becks and Posh directly.

Sadly -- since we would have enjoyed bringing you the blog post in which we commented on the celebrity baby names pronounced most unholy by the pontiff himself -- these headlines are misleading. This one's more accurate: "Pope Benedict XVI calls on parents to use proper Christian names when naming their children." 

Apparently, the Pope was giving mass at the Sistine Chapel (and baptizing 21 babies) when he said: "Every baptised child acquires the character of the son of God, beginning with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be born anew in the womb of the Church."

That's it. The Pope's war on baby names. Apparently, though, it's all about context. Noted one reporter, "The Pope was believed to be speaking out against the trend of copying obscure celebrity baby names." In Italy, said another reporter, "the name of a child has particular significance. Children are often named after saints, who are considered a guiding force in their life" (sic). Thus, the trend toward non-biblical baby names is not just un-Christian: it's dangerous. A baby without a Christian name is a baby without a protective saint.

The reporters know who to blame: celebrities. Undeterred by the pope's failure to name names, newspaper stories gleefully singled out the Beckhams, Bob Geldof and Katie Price in particular for their untraditional baby names, leading the naming masses astray. 

Still, the fact that the pope himself didn't actually diss Gwynnie himself is a kind of a disappointment. Not to worry, though. Reporter Nick Squires  got some lower level church people to comment in more specific terms

 Channelling both the Pope and the guys from Freakonomics, Monsignor Andrew Fraley (assistant general secretary to Catholic Bishop's conference) noted: "Naming children after perfumes, bicycles and countries is putting a limit on their potential." 

 However, there's a loophole: "When I was a parish priest, if I didn't agree with the name I'd suggest they should give the second name of a saint."  Hurrah, a perfect excuse for a baby name game! 

How to Compose an 'Offbeat' -- but grudgingly Vicar-Approved -- Baby Name:




Ducati Appolonia
Bianchi Eugenia
Flowerbomb Blaise
Giant Wilgefortis
Huffy Hippolytus
Egypt Jerome


In the comments. Your turn.





Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

January 11, 2011 6:42 PM
By ClaireP (not verified)

ooo ooo ooo! As an avid cyclist, this is really fun. I'll let other people come up with saint names - here's a list of bicycle brands to draw on:

Girls’ Names
De Rosa
Quintana Roo

Boys’ Names
Freddie Grubb

Cute Unisex

Names I don’t recommend:
Independent Fabrication
Flying Pigeon

January 11, 2011 7:19 PM
By Caitlyn (not verified)

just as a side-note - if you actually read Freakonomics, they conclude that the name doesn't have any discernible effect on a child's life (though factors that influence the name may also influence their life, of course) You don't get that from the trailer, but it's only a trailer. (This is especially unfortunate because I think you and the freakonomics guys would get along great - lots of applying geeky analysis to common stuff.)

January 12, 2011 8:11 AM
By Lane

@Claire -- those are terrific! Although I do sorta like Surly...

@Caitlyn -- undoubtedly you are right.

January 12, 2011 11:02 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Other bike brands include:

When he said perfume, was he referring to the name Coco? That actually was a name before it was a perfume. I don't know anyone naming their child CK1 or Light Blue.

January 12, 2011 2:35 PM
By Genie Apple (not verified)

I reckon the pope was probably referring to forenames in general, rather than specifically 'christian' names, after all saint names were original and 'non-christian' before christians of those names were beatified.

By the way, my middle name is Appolonia :)

January 13, 2011 11:24 AM
By Another British Laura (not verified)

I kind of like the idea of the perfume/bike/country followed by a saint's name or perhaps a Biblical name.
Can only think of a few right now but here they are-

Chanel Madeleine
Canada Rosalia
India Gisele

Harley Malachy
Kestrel Jacobi
Holland Edmund

January 14, 2011 11:55 AM
By Elizabeth (not verified)

I'm with Genie Apple, I think people are attaching way too much significance to the phrase "Christian name." It pretty much just means "first name," just like your last name is your surname even if none of your ancestors was a Sir.

January 18, 2011 1:35 PM
By Scarlettb (not verified)

It's SURname. Because Sur is Latin for "after". Ancestors that were knighted has nothing to do with it.

April 8, 2011 11:49 PM
By Baby Boy Names (not verified)

I am very glad to get some popular baby names from this blog.

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