Papaphobia: A Fear of the Pope

Do you find your palms getting sweaty at the mention of the Pope? Do you get panicky at the sight of the Holy Pontiff?

If you answered ‘Yes’, you may suffer from Papaphobia, a fear of the Pope. Related to Hierophobia (fear of holy people or sacred things), Ecclesiaphobia (fear of church, organized religion or holy people), and Hagiophobia (fear of saints or holy things), Papaphobia is a persistent fear of the pope or the papacy and may extend to fear of the Roman Catholic Church.


This fear may be caused by a specific triggering event, or a powerful negative experience from one’s past, or a very unpleasant experience within a Catholic or religious setting. As with other phobias, it is possible that Papaphobia may develop through a combination of heredity, genetics, and brain chemistry in tandem with traumatizing life-experiences, especially at a young age.

To millions, the Pope is a beloved spiritual leader, but the image of this Head of the Catholic Church can be a trigger for sufferers of Papaphobia, leading to debilitating symptoms including extreme anxiety, panic, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, shaking, irregular heartbeat, and rapid breathing.

Recovery from Papaphobia is possible through effective treatment with a professional. While prescribed medications may help, these therapeutic tools only momentarily contain the symptoms. Sufferers will find that consistent exposure to the source of their fear will lessen the grip of this condition on their lives.