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Archive for November, 2015

How do you address a former pope of the Roman Catholic Church? I bet you never considered that!
          — B. E. in Georgia

Dear B.E.,
It’s less that I have not considered it, than the Roman Catholic Church didn’t have a formal style for how to address a retired pope in it’s modern literature.
I don’t define how anyone is addressed … I just keep track of how current organizations address their current and former officials – so those of us outside their domain can address them correctly.
Now they’ve established there can be a former office holder.
Some would have guessed that Pope Benedict would return to the form of address to which he was entitled before assuming office — cardinal. There are already retired former office holders at that level. Having a retired cardinal addressed in the same way as current cardinals presents no confusion, since being a cardinal is not a singular (only-one-office-holder-at-a-time) position.

* For example, when Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son Willem-Alexander in 2013, she returned to the form of address to which she was entitled prior to taking office: Princess.

However, In the UK, “Queen Elizabeth” – the Queen Mother (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, the present British sovereign, and the widow of King George VI) continued to be addressed as Your Majesty when her daughter assumed the throne without much mishap.

These situations are, of course, a bit different, but they are modern examples of how other hierarchies dealt with titles of office holders.
       — Robert Hickey 

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