March 13, 2013. (Romereports.com)
The change of name for Popes has a theological explanation rooted in the Bible. God changed the name of all people he assigned special mission to, such as Abraham. Jesus, also changed the name of several of his disciples upon assigning them missions, such as St. Peter and St. Paul. It gave way to the tradition of Popes to change their name when they are elected as a successor to Peter.
The election of each name is a personal decision that can
take into account several factors. One of them is affection. It is
common for an elected Pope to take the name of a recent predecessor.
John Paul I decided to combine the names of John XXIII and Paul VI. Juan
Paul II followed by honoring his predecessor.
Benedict XVI referenced in his name Benedict XV, the Pope that had to mediate during World War I.
the new Pope chooses to follow their example, he could very well choose
the name Benedict XVII. It would signal the continuity of the past
pontificate. Or with John Paul II, if his inspiration is the intrepid
and pastoral spirit of the Polish Pope. He could also choose John XXIV
or Paul VII, remembering the Popes of the Second Vatican Council, which
celebrates this year the 50 anniversary of its inauguration.
are other great Popes that have also generated a great following among
successors, like Leo. Leo XIV would be the name of the new Pope if he
chooses to honor Leo XIII, the Pope that initiated the Church's social
doctrine in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.
XVII could be the name for a Pope that wants to reform the structure of
the Church to make it more efficient. St. Gregory the Great and Saint
Gregory VII could serve as references.
However, there is also
the chance the new Pope could break new ground and choose a new name.
John Paul I did so after nearly 1,000 years. The last original name
introduced by a Pope was Lando I in the year 913.
If the new Pope
wanted to introduce a new name, he could very well opt for a name with a
strong Christian tradition that has not been used before. Among the
possibilities are Louis, Francis, Xavier, Ignatius or Thomas. They all
evoke saints and would like be welcomed by Catholics.