Thursday, May 10, 2018

Etiquette for Meeting the Pope

The Pope, or Supreme Pontiff, is the Bishop of Rome. He is the ex officio the leader of the Catholic Church.


  • The Pope is never introduced. He literally is a man who needs no introduction. (You, of course, ought to be introduced by somebody.)
  • When you speak to him, you address him as Your Holiness. (If you happen to find yourself in a sea of high-level Catholic clergy and are wondering what to call everyone, Cardinals are Your Eminence, and Bishops and Archbishops are Your Excellency.)
  • As for his symbolic fisherman's ring, which some kneel and kiss as a sign of respect: If you're not Catholic, there's no expectation whatsoever that you kiss the ring. And even if you are Catholic, it's not required: Vice President Biden dispensed with the practice two years ago, giving the Pope a handshake instead.
  • That's totally acceptable — especially with Pope Francis, who tends not to stand on ceremony. He has a habit of embracing people, bowing to them — or, when Cardinals bend to kiss his ring, bending to kiss theirs back. – Source NPR, 2015

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia