Getting the Numbers Right
1st, 2nds and 267ths
Rome, March 14, 2013
After Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced to the world Wednesday that "habemus Papam" and that he had taken the name Francis, many immediately started referring to the new Pontiff as Francis I.
Some hours later and again today, the Vatican clarified that his name is just Francis, and there is no need to refer to him with a number unless or until a future pope takes the name Francis II.
More confusion surrounds references to Francis as the Successor of St. Peter. Is he the 265th, 266th or 267th pope?
Everyone knows St. Peter was the first pope, which means St. Linus (who reigned from 67 to 76) was St. Peter's first successor.
Following that logic and according to some counts, Francis is the 266th pope, the 265th successor of St. Peter.
However, as James Hitchcock, author of "History of the Catholic Church," clarified for ZENIT, "Stephen II in the eighth century died before he was installed as pope. Some lists count him and some do not."
Thus, Francis is considered by some the 267th pope, the 266th successor of St. Peter.