Skip to content ↓

Papal Titles

I stumbled across a site that provided information about the proper way of addressing the pope and thought I would share that.

Direct address: Your Holiness, or Holy Father.
Written address: His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, or better, The Sovereign Pontiff, His Holiness John Paul II.
Formal closing: Kissing the Sacred Foot.
Formal introduction: His Holiness, the Pope.

I did a bit of research and found out the following titles the pope holds:

Roman Pontiff
Bishop of Rome
Papa
Summus Pontifex
Pontifex Maximus
Servus servorum Dei
Holy Father
Vicar of Jesus Christ
Successor of the Chief of the Apostles
Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church
Patriarch of the West Primate of Italy
Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province
Sovereign of the State of Vatican City
Vicar of the Son of God (*)
The Sovereign Pontiff

Just by way of comparison, the head of my church prefers to be addressed as follows:

Direct address: Jeff.
Written address: Pastor Jeff.
Formal closing: A nod or a wave or “cheerio!”
Formal introduction: Pastor Jeff.

His titles would include :

Teaching pastor
Dad (to his children)
Honey (to his wife)
Coach (to the kids on the baseball team he coaches)


  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 22)

    A La Carte: Ice, wind, and unanswered prayers / Was it all a waste? / Prepping for the impending apocalypse / The best analogy for the Trinity / Getting to stop by woods on a snowy evening / Bible translation and AI / and more.

  • Like an iPhone

    Like an iPhone, Only Much More So

    Can I confess something to you? There’s one thing Aileen does that really bugs me. We will be talking together and enjoying one another’s company. But then, as we chat, I’ll hear the telltale buzz of her phone. And I can tell that I’ve lost her. I can see it in the look on her…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 21)

    A La Carte: When cultural tailwinds become cultural headwinds / Talking with kids about gender issues / Try to be more awkward / Life is more than mountaintop experiences / Tinder / Unpacking “separation of church and state” / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 20)

    A La Carte: How hell motivates holiness / The bond of love / How to love our friends in truth, even when it stings / The distorting power of the prosperity gospel / Thinking about plagues / and more.

  • A Difference Making Ministry for Any Christian

    A Difference-Making Ministry for Any Christian

    The experience of preaching is very different from the front than from the back, when facing the congregation than when facing the preacher. The congregation faces one man who is doing his utmost to be engaging, to hold their attention, and to apply truths that will impact their hearts and transform their lives.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 19)

    A La Carte: Courageous pastors or overbearing leaders? / Jesus didn’t diss the poor / 8 qualities of true revival / Why don’t you talk about the sermon? / The idol of competence / The danger of inhospitality / and more.