Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pope Benedict and the Reasons for the Name Benedict

Benedict XVI to visit Benedict XVPope Benedict XV.
Cardianl Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict XVI chose his name to remind the world and reveive the Grace of St. Benedict, the Catholic Monk and father of Modern Catholic Monasticism. The Saint saved Europe and founded the Beneditine Order and Rule.
  • St. Benedict the principal, heavenly patron of the whole of Europe. The title piously exaggerates the place of Benedict but in many respects it is true. St. Benedict did not establish the monastery of Monte Cassino in order to preserve the learning of the ages, but in fact the monasteries that later followed his Rule were places where learning and manuscripts were preserved. For some six centuries or more the Christian culture of medieval Europe was nearly identical with the monastic centers of piety and learning.
Saint Benedict was not the founder of Christian monasticism, since he lived two and a half to three centuries after its beginnings in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. He became a monk as a young man and thereafter learned the tradition by associating with monks and reading the monastic literature. He was caught up in the monastic movement but ended by channeling the stream into new and fruitful ways. This is evident in the Rule which he wrote for monasteries and which was and is still used in many monasteries and convents around the world (see Rule of Benedict).
Tradition teaches that St. Benedict lived from 480 to 547, though we cannot be sure that these dates are historically accurate. His biographer, St. Gregory the Great, pope from 590 to 604, does not record the dates of his birth and death, though he refers to a Rule written by Benedict. Scholars debate the dating of the Rule though they seem to agree that it was written in the second third of the sixth century.
Cardinal Ratzinger also chose to honor a Pope who the Muslims honor! At the Saint Esprit Cathedral in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Harbiye there a statue of his namesake, Benedict XV.

During a reign that lasted from 1914-22, Pope Benedict XV struggled to stop World War One and built a hospital at the Syrian border where wounded Turkish soldiers were treated. The current pope calls Benedict XV “a courageous ambassador for peace”.

The statue, situated in the gardens of a cathedral named for Benedict XV and it has been cleaned by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality for the Pope Benedict's visit.

Istanbul statue honors ‘great Pontiff’ Benedict

Monday, September 25, 2006


ISTANBUL - Reuters

Just off a busy main street in central Istanbul stands a towering statue of Pope Benedict, with a plaque hailing him as "the benefactor of all people, regardless of nationality or religion."
Pope Benedict XVI, now under fire in the Muslim world for recent remarks about Islam, will visit the larger-than-life bronze statue during his delicate trip to Turkey in late November.
Is this a gesture of reconciliation from a government with Islamist roots that has just called the German-born pontiff's words "ugly and unfortunate"? Or a serious mistake in timing?
The answer is neither. The statue was erected in 1921 to Pope Benedict XV, the last head of the Roman Catholic Church to use that name until German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in April 2005 and became Benedict XVI.
Ratzinger said that the last Benedict's repeated efforts to end World War I were one reason he took the name.
Turkey honored the Italian-born Benedict for opening up Catholic health facilities to all victims of the war, regardless of which side they fought on. The then Ottoman Empire was allied with another empire that lost that war, Germany.
"He didn't succeed in ending the war, so he did what he could to ease the suffering of its victims," said Monsignor Georges Marovitch, spokesman for the bishops serving the tiny minority of Roman and Eastern Catholics in this Muslim country.
Heeding his call, the Spanish Embassy set up a small hospital and nuns installed recovery rooms in their convents for wounded Ottoman soldiers and ailing Austrian and Italian prisoners of war forced to work in Anatolian mines and on railways.
When Church officials began collecting for the statue, Sultan Mehmet VI joined Muslims, Jews, Armenians and other groups contributing to the fund, said Rinaldo Marmara, historian for the Vatican representation in Istanbul.
Worried Benedict says "Stop!'
The statue stands on a large stone pedestal in the small forecourt of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, built in 1846.
In keeping with their minority status here, the Catholics had to hide the cathedral behind an office building to avoid offending the city's Muslim majority. They erected the statue in the forecourt for the same reason.
The Italian-made memorial shows a worried looking Benedict in his papal robes and triple tiara, with his right hand raised as if to say "stop!" to the trench fighting he abhorred.
It would be hard to imagine any such gesture of gratitude to today's Benedict, who spoke out against Turkish membership in the European Union before he was elected pope.
This month, he gave a speech interpreted as an attack on Islam, prompting Muslim leaders to call for the visit to be called off or for Benedict to issue a full apology.
But it's not all hard feelings here.
The city of Istanbul has paid for cleaning and renovating the statue in preparation for the pope's visit.
"We're the City Hall for all the people, not just for one group," said Nadya Tasel, the city official in charge of relations with minority communities, said as she visited the site to review the work.
Asked how much the renovation cost, she smiled and said: "This is a gift from the city. It's not right to reveal the price of a gift."
Benedict XV also promulgated a new Code of Canon Law in 1917 and attempted to improve relations with the anticlerical Republican government of France. He canonised the French national heroine Saint Joan of Arc. In the mission territories of the Third World, he emphasised the necessity of training native priests to replace the European missionaries as soon as possible, and established a Coptic college in the Vatican.
In physical appearance, Benedict XV was a slight, rather sickly man (the smallest of the three cassocks which had been prepared for whoever the new Pope might be in 1914 was still a good deal too big for him). He was renowned for his generosity, answering all pleas for help from poor Roman families with large cash gifts from his private revenues.
Benedict XV had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and like all the modern Popes encouraged the wearing of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He endorsed the belief that wearing it piously brings "the singular privilege of protection after death" from eternal damnation, and granted an indulgence for every time it was kissed. He also added the title 'Queen of Peace' to her Litany, and gave his support to an understanding of Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces (by approving a Mass and office under this title for the dioceses of Belgium) and affirmed that "together with Christ she redeemed the human race" by her immolation of Christ as his sorrowful mother (in his apostolic letter Inter sodalicia).
Benedict XV fell ill with pneumonia in early January 1922. Speculation around the world about the 67 year old pontiff's impending death went so far that a New York newspaper mistakenly ran a front page headline announcing that he had died when, in fact, he continued on. The newspaper had a sense of humor about its terrible gaffe and ran a follow-up headline later in the day, "Pope has remarkable recovery". On January 22, Benedict XV died of the illness.
Benedict XV lying in state.
Benedict XV lying in state.
Although one of the less remembered Popes of the twentieth century, Benedict XV was unique in his humane approach in the world of 1914-1918, which starkly contrasts with that of the other great monarchs and leaders of the time. His worth is reflected in the tribute engraved at the foot of the statue that the Turks, a non-Catholic, non-Christian people, erected of him in Istanbul: "The great Pope of the world tragedy...the benefactor of all people, irrespective of nationality or religion."
Dominus Vobiscum

Get your email and more, right on the new


Post a Comment

<< Home