“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

December 19, 2009

Did the Holy See Just Patent, Trademark, and Copyright the Papacy?

No, really. It looks like that's what at least somebody in the HS press office intends to do. I did a double take when I saw this on their website today, but here's the declaration in plain English, not to mention in plain German, Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese.

What do you make of it?

I really don't see how this measure could possibly be enforced. And I have to wonder if the press office is really ready to be inundated with tens of thousands of faxes, letters, and e-mails containing requests for permission from parishes, publishing houses, universities (well, at least one), journalists, and bloggers who, if they take this requirement seriously (many, maybe most, won't).


Recent years have witnessed a great increase of affection and esteem for the person of the Holy Father. There has also been a desire to use the Pope’s name in the title of universities, schools or cultural institutions, as well as associations, foundations and other groups.

In light of this fact, the Holy See hereby declares that it alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter, and, therefore, to protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorized use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church. Occasionally, in fact, attempts have been made to attribute credibility and authority to initiatives by using ecclesiastical or papal symbols and logos.

Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff (his name, his picture or his coat of arms), and/or the use of the title "Pontifical", must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See (source).

Jack Bauer Interrogates Santa