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.