Stuff My Sisters Will Like

To Jenny, Katie and Laura, From Their Brother, Victor

Quiz: Popes or Presidents? September 8, 2013

Filed under: Catholicism,History,Neat,Politics,Religion,Stuff,Tests — Fr. Victor Feltes @ 8:00 am

There have been 266 papal reigns, from Pope St. Peter to Pope Francis, and 44 U.S. presidential tenures, from President Washington to President Obama. For each of the following facts, see if you can guess whether they describe Popes or Presidents:
(Highlight to reveal answers)

  1. They assume their office by swearing an oath: Presidents, as required by the U.S. Constitution. Men elected pope assume office simply by their verbal acceptance of it.
  2. They have all been at least 42 years old: Teddy Roosevelt became the youngest president at 42. The U.S. Constitution requires presidents to be at least 35 years old. Pope Benedict IX was elected somewhere between the ages of 11 and 20.
  3. They serve the longer average time in office: Popes reign an average of about 7.3 years while presidents serve an average of about 5.2 years in office.
  4. Has the man among them who spent the shortest time in office: Pope VII died after reigning 13 days. President William Harrison served 31 days until dying of pneumonia.
  5. Has a man among them who was born in England: Pope Adrian IV was born in England. All of the presidents have been born in America.
  6. Has men among them who have entered marriage while in office: Presidents John Tyler & Grover Cleveland both entered marriages while in office.
  7. Has a man among them who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity: President Thomas Jefferson.
  8. Has had more men whose legitimate sons became their later successors: Presidents John Adams and George H.W. Bush both had sons who later became president, though Pope Hormisdas was the father of Pope Silverius.
  9. Has the man among them with the most non-consecutive terms in office: Pope Benedict IX had three non-consecutive terms, while President Grover Cleveland had only two.
  10. Has more men among them who have resigned from office: Popes Celestine V, Gregory XII, and Benedict XVI are all known to have resigned. Richard Nixon is the only president to have resigned.
  11. Has more men among them named James: There have been six presidents named James, including President “Jimmy” Carter, but no popes of that name.
  12. Has more men among them named John: There have been 21 [sic] popes named John, but only four presidents with that name.
  13. Has more men among them who were Catholic: Though President John F. Kennedy was a Catholic, the pope is always Catholic.

Pope or President Quiz Scoring:

0-1: Impeachable Apostate
2-3: Lame Duck in a Pointy Hat
4-5: Collapsed Conclave Campaigner
6-7: Absentee American Catholic
8: Honorary Catholic Politician
9: Future U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
10: Future Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
11: Dean of the U.S. Electoral College of Cardinals
12: Politically Savvier than Solomon
 Papal POTUS Grand Poobah


3 Responses to “Quiz: Popes or Presidents?”

  1. Matthew Hood Says:

    There have been no popes with the name “James” because that is an English name. However, Pope Honorius IV and Benedict XV were named “Giacomo”, which is just “James” in Italian, before they ascended to the Chair of Peter.

  2. WRO Says:

    Jefferson had many different beliefs on religion throughout his life. Based on most recent critical scholarship, only at the end of his life did he move toward a “Christian Primativism”.

    I would recommend “The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson” by David Barton and Glenn Beck

    “Alan Crawford, a journalist and author, also penned a review very critical of The Jefferson Lies; and like the others, he, too, resorts to the tools of modern historical malpractice in order to discount the clear message of historical documents. For example, in summarizing my views about Jefferson, Crawford claims:

    That Jefferson might have been what we would think of as a deist or even a Unitarian, as many historians believe, Mr. Barton also disputes. Jefferson was “pro-Christian and pro-Jesus,” he says, although he concedes that the president did have a few qualms about “specific Christian doctrines.” The doctrines Jefferson rejected – the Divinity of Christ, the Resurrection, the Trinity – are what place him in the camp of the deists and Unitarians in the first place. 18
    Significantly, in the chapter on Jefferson’s religious beliefs, I document that Jefferson went through several religious phases during his life. In the first half of his life, he held orthodox Christian views, and in his “Notes on Religion, 1776,” he consistently expounded what orthodox Christians still believe today. In middle life, his faith faltered when his beloved wife unexpectedly died, but he eventually retained his orthodox beliefs. But many decades later in the last years of his life, he embraced what was known as Christian Restoration or Christian Primitivism, which promoted Unitarianism and called into question some orthodox Christian doctrines, thus reversing his beliefs of earlier decades.

    But Crawford, ignoring Jefferson’s many writings documenting his changing religious phases, instead asserts that Jefferson was a Unitarian for his entire life. On what grounds does he claim this? – on the basis of any Jefferson writing? No. Rather, he says it is because “many historians believe . . .” So, like the other critics, Crawford refuses to allow Jefferson to speak for himself but instead believes that only modern academics like himself can speak for Jefferson.”

    • victorfeltes Says:

      In a 1788 letter to deRieux, Jefferson politely declined to be a baptismal sponsor because he could not assent to Trinitarian belief:

      “The person who becomes sponsor for a child, according to the ritual of the church in which I was educated, makes a solemn profession, before god and the world, of faith in articles, which I had never sense enough to comprehend, and it has always appeared to me that comprehension must precede assent. The difficulty of reconciling the ideas of Unity and Trinity, have, from a very early part of my life, excluded me from the office of sponsorship, often proposed to me by my friends…. Accept therefore Sir this conscientious excuse which I make with regret, which must find it’s apology in my heart, while perhaps it may do no great honour to my head…” (

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