I had a conversation a while ago with a woman I know who was due soon with a little girl and still trying to figure out a name. In the course of the conversation I suggested Pilar as a middle name idea — it flowed really well with the first name ideas on the list she and her husband had compiled, and though neither she nor her husband are Hispanic, they are into more unusual Catholic names, and of course Pilar’s Marian, and you know me, always trying to get those Marian names in there. So I was really surprised when she said she’d run Pilar by her husband and he’d said no because he’s “not into cultural appropriation.”
I was so taken aback! I honest-to-goodness never considered that any of the names associated with our faith would be a problem for Catholics, whether they be the names of saints from other countries (or our own) (I’m looking at you, St. Kateri) or titles of Mary in another language — I’ve always just figured that it all belongs to all of us. Like, such names *are* our culture — Catholic culture, which embraces and celebrates — and transcends — human culture. Even after thinking about it for the months since I had that conversation, I’m still of the opinion that it’s all okay.
I totally get that the woman’s husband was just expressing his personal preference to not use names of a culture that’s not his nor his wife’s — which is totally fine and understandable! And it probably has just as much to do with the fact that he probably just doesn’t like Pilar anyway — it was just the use of the term “cultural appropriation” that gave me a start, being politically charged as it is.
I suspect I know what you all think, you non-Native American parents of Kateris and non-Spanish parents of Xaviers 😏, but I’m still interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Do you think there are any Catholic names that are off limits for Catholics for reasons related to “cultural appropriation”?