Defect in form


A Vatican Secretariat of State press release came out over the weekend. It's a policy statement about a relatively minor matter: organizations named after Popes.


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.

(emphasis added)

Here's what I find odd: that a statement from the Vatican is using a modern word such as "logo". I feel as if the word were invented practically yesterday. As it happens, "logo" only dates to 1937, which seems way too recent for an institution with 2000 years behind it.

Surely there should be some rule that the Vatican doesn't use words that aren't at least 100 years old.


According to, the word logotype, from which logo was derived, has been in use since 1816.

The Vatican should use proper terminology rather than using the popular condensed form of a word.

Of course, there are several things the announcement leaves out. Does it include the Benedict XVI fan club Blog? Are they including previous Popes, or just the present Pontiff? If this legal in every country? It seemed very poorly drafted.

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Richard Chonak

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on December 21, 2009 11:33 AM.

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