Let Pope Benedict XVI Name Your Baby

Pope Benedict XVIYou might not need that baby name book after all. Pope Benedict XVI has put out a papal declaration on naming babies. And for once -- let's get this on record -- this celibate man is making good sense for most parents, not just his faithful flock.

The Pope has asked people to drop the "offbeat" naming trend in favor of "Christian" names, the sort that he says are an "indelible seal" on a child. I'm no fan of marking kids with something religious, but there's a root to this that makes good sense.


In searching for a name for my kid, I was plagued by the need to find something that would be acceptable to a priest at baptism. It's the height of hypocrisy, and I'll readily admit it. I'm a crappy lapsed Catholic. The driving force was more a sense of tradition ... and the knowledge that I'd have my mother breathing down my neck until she was washed of original sin.

In the Catholic faith, the "traditional names" get preferential treatment because they're linked to saints. Either the first or middle name should match that of a saint, who in essence becomes a child's sponsor in life. Call it mumbo jumbo; I don't care. It made life easier!

Because those baby name books are HUGE. And you need some sort of rubric to cut them down to something more palatable. Settling on so-called Christian names did not stifle our creativity; we were allowed for derivations from the original saint's name. So Jackson, our preferred boy name, would have been acceptable as a diminutive of John.

Don't want to take an easy way out on baby naming? Think of it this way: it's for your kids. You're not likely to have to worry about them being pronounced correctly, having them spelled correctly, having your kids be embarrassed by them (ahem, indelible seal).

It won't work for everyone; I can see that. Mohammed is an incredibly popular -- and normal -- name, and it's not likely to be categorized by the pope as "Christian." But you've got to start somewhere. Let the pope help.

Are you surprised to find yourself agreeing with the pope on something?


Image via Sergey Gabdurakhmanov/Flickr

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