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.
DECLARATION ON THE PROTECTION OF THE FIGURE OF THE POPE
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).