When the Pope Comes Calling

Some etiquette tips in case you meet the Bishop of Rome in the flesh.

  • Dress: Semi-formal. “For men, that means a jacket and tie and polished shoes. For women, a nice dress or suit works best — preferably one that covers the arms and has a hemline below the knees.” Baseball caps are okay at papal masses. Tube tops, sadly, no.
  • Honours: Lavish.  “In a small room, people often clap quietly, as if they were at a golf tournament. But in a big venue, such as a stadium, the crowd frequently greets the pope with loud cheers and a thunderous ovation.”
  • Face-to-face: Genuflect, genuflect, genuflect.

Kowtowing is optional
  • Address: “Your Holiness or Holy Father.”  Terms such as Popey, Benny, The Rat Rocker, 16, Hey You, and so on, while endearing, are actively discouraged.
  • Kissing the Ring:  Yes, “If  you are Catholic and the pope offers his hand. If you’re not Catholic, you can opt to shake his hand.”  Also, don’t slobber. Air kisses are optimal.
  • When he leaves: “When the pope gets up to leave, you should also stand up. Wait for him to leave the room before turning your attention to anything else.”  I.e. no rushing the door, no heading for the buffet, cellphones and Blackberrys off.

We thought you’d like to know.