Why Cardinal Ratzinger Chose the Name Pope Benedict XVI

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papal throne on April 19, 2005, the second day of the conclave. He chose to be known henceforth as Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinal from Germany is the 265th pope in the Catholic Church history. But why the name Benedict? We have long been accustomed to having a pope named John, or Paul, or a combination thereof. In fact, quite many catholics today have known only one pope in their lifetime. Well, at least before the late Pope John Paul II passed away and Pope Benedict XVI came along. Some, though, who are much older have also known Pope John Paul I and Pope Paul VI. A few lucky ones can even remember as far back as Pope John XXIII, the smiling pope who initiated the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960's. Why Benedict? In his first general audience held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope explained that he chose the name Benedict XVI as a link to Benedict XV, the Italian pope who guided the Church during the turbulent era of the First World War. Pope Benedict XV tried many times, though unsuccessfuly, to negotiate peace among the warring nations. He organized significant humanitarian efforts to guarantee the well-being and freedom of people affected by the war. As the new Pope in a seemingly chaotic and confused age we live in today, Benedict XVI hopes that the Church may contribute significantly in attaining reconciliation and harmony between peoples of different creed, ideology, race and economic status. The name Benedict also brings to mind the extraordinary figure of the great reformer of Europe, St. Benedict. This remarkable man, through the Benedictine Order which he founded, exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent. Pope Benedict XVI is appealing to St. Benedict to help the present-day Church make Christ's teachings occupy central position in the hearts of all Christians. The Pope is well aware that to solve the enormous problems the Church is facing today, he would need the tenacity and gutsiness of Benedict XV and the charm and influence of St. Benedict.