Reflecting the Mind of the Vatican since 1850
Benedict XV, 100 Years After His Death
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In the years of his brief but fruitful pontificate (1914-22), Benedict XV found himself facing pastoral and ecclesiastical problems that were truly serious for the Church and for society. They were of a significance similar to those faced by Pius VII after the French Revolution, and by Pius IX in dealing with events that led to the unification of Italy. His reputation, however, unlike those two pontiffs mentioned, was obscured both by a war that in a short time went from European to worldwide bloodshed, and also by secular historians who have not seen him in a favorable light.

Benedict XV has been described as the “unknown pope.” In fact, so as to shed light on the tragic problems that the Christian community was facing in those difficult years, he diminished himself in the cause of the Gospel. Around two thirds of the Catholics of the time were involved in the First World War: 124 million on the side of the Triple Entente and 64 million on the side of the Central Empires (the German and the Austro-Hungarian).

This article deals in a general way with the question – a focus in recent times – of the relationship between Benedict XV and the war, stressing only the fundamental principles that guided his pastoral action, which was innovative and at the same time respectful of the traditional magisterium of the Church. Giacomo Della Chiesa was elected pope on September 3, 1914. He had been archbishop of Bologna and had been created cardinal a few months before the death of Pius X, on May 25, 1914.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2022
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