Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pope Tells Why He Chose 'Benedict'

In his first general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 15,000 people, the Pope again gave thanks to God for having elected him as Peter's successor, and explained why he chose the name of Benedict.

The Holy Father spoke of the feelings he was experiencing at the beginning of his ministry: "awe and gratitude to God, Who surprised me more than anyone in calling me to succeed the Apostle Peter; and interior trepidation before the greatness of the task and the responsibilities which have been entrusted to me. However, I draw serenity and joy from the certainty of God's help, that of His most Holy Mother the Virgin Mary, and of the patron saints. I also feel supported by the spiritual closeness of all the people of God whom, as I repeated last Sunday, I continue to ask to accompany me with persistent prayer."

"Resuming the Wednesday general audiences," he went on, "I wish to speak of the name I chose on becoming bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal Church. I chose to call myself Benedict XVI ideally as a link to the venerated Pontiff, Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War. He was a true and courageous prophet of peace who struggled strenuously and bravely, first to avoid the drama of war and then to limit its terrible consequences. In his footsteps I place my ministry, in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples, profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is above all a gift of God, a fragile and precious gift to be invoked, safeguarded and constructed, day after day and with everyone's contribution.

"The name Benedict also evokes the extraordinary figure of the great 'patriarch of western monasticism,' St. Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe with Cyril and Methodius. The progressive expansion of the Benedictine Order which he founded exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent. For this reason, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, my own land of origin; he constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization."

The Pope appealed to St. Benedict for help "to hold firm Christ's central position in our lives. May he always be first in our thoughts and in all our activities!"

Before concluding, Benedict XVI announced that, just as at the beginning of his pontificate John Paul II had continued the reflections on Christian virtues begun by Pope John Paul I, in coming weekly audiences he would resume "the comments prepared by John Paul II on the second part of the Psalms and Canticles, which are part of Vespers. From next Wednesday, I will begin precisely from where his catechesis was interrupted after the general audience of January 26."

The Holy Father read out brief summaries of his catechesis, which he had delivered in Italian, in various other languages: English, French, Spanish and German. He then gave brief greetings to various groups in Croatian, Slovenian and Polish and concluded by addressing the 1,000 faithful from the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, Italy, who were accompanied by Archbishop Riccardo Fontana.


Anonymous said...

A visual message to the world of the 'catholic' (i.e. universal love of Christ) nature of the Church is given in the fact that a German was chosen to follow a Pole. This shows a healing of historical wounds. We are all one in God, in "war and peace". Indeed, how true, God has no favourites! Benedict XVI, as every pope, is raised up by the Lord to be an instrument of at-onement and peace to all people of his “good will”. This shows the truly universal or “catholic” spiritual and inner reality of the Church, which is entrusted by God with the mission of reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20) as the visible expression of the unity of Christ’s Mystical Body. In this respect, what we are witnessing, exulting and sharing in existentially is a profoundly theological truth – not just a transition of ecclesiastical government, but the truth of Christian Passover, that is, a call to pass in the Risen Lord Jesus’ Spirit beyond the death-dealing divisive aspects of this world to the divine life of holy communion with the Father of humankind and all creation.

Anonymous said...

Papa Razinger has delivered another eloquent address to thousands in his first general audience. He is emerging as a superb communicator, even if he still looks a little uncomfortable with the attention and adulation. He still seems to shrink from the physical contact that Wojtyla was so adept at managing.

After his expressive account of why he chose the name Benedict, it would be wonderful if he were to make a visit to the great Benedictine monasteries of Subiaco and Monte Cassino as one of his first trips outside Rome. Both are architecturally stunning, tangible links with the history of St Benedict. Monte Cassino is especially appropriate because it was destroyed in World War II. Despite almost complete demolition it has risen again, renewed, vibrant and a powerful symbol of reconciliation.

John said...

They rebuilt Monte Cassino?

I never knew that.

John said...

More concretely:

Where is this Pope likely to put his emphasis?

Peace and social justice?

Or in Re-Christianizing Europe, which might turn out to be rather...Combative in terms of relations w/ the Muslim world (most Mosques are funded by the Saudis)?

vbspurs said...


I've just "ended" coverage of the Papal Ascension on my blog, but though I am leaving the topic for a while, in truth, Benedict XVI will always merit a comment here and there on the blog.

In the blogpiece I mention below, I wrap-up all my thoughts since 2 April, and hope it may please some of you.

I also mentioned your blog at the very end, front-and-centre.

"Why are We So Afraid of Benedict XVI?"


Anonymous said...

Yes, Monte Cassino was rebuilt. This is the link to the Monte Cassino site.

Anonymous said...

I have just learned of a secret letter signed by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001 in which he instructs all catholic bishops that cases of child sexual abuse by priests are under the sole jurisdiction of the church under the principle of "papal secrecy," & that this control continues for 10 yrs after the 18th yr of the victim(s). The cases are not to be reported to any civil authority and the church must be allowed to deal with them in total secrecy. AND THIS IS OUR NEW POPE?

Anonymous said...

Anon, I believe Pope Benedict must be given a chance. Cardinal Ratzinger had a difficult, if not thankless job, and everyone knew what a controversial figure he was. However, we are just starting to know how Benedict is like. So please give him a chance. One gives Presidents at least three months to settle in and to see what kind of direction s/he will give to the Presidency, so why not afford Benedict this same chance to do the same?