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Why the name Benedict?

on Friday, 01 April 2005. Posted in Pope Benedict XVI

In his first general audience, on April 27, Benedict XVI explained why he had chosen the name "Benedict":

"In this first meeting I would like first of all to reflect on the name I have chosen when becoming Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the universal Church. I wished to call myself Benedict XVI to be united ideally with the venerated Pontiff Benedict XV, who led the Church in a troubled time because of World War I. He was a courageous and authentic prophet of peace, and he did his utmost with strenuous courage from the start to avoid the drama of the war and then to limit its inauspicious consequences. Following his footsteps, I wish to put my ministry at the service of reconciliation and harmony among men and nations, profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is, first of all, a gift of God, a fragile and precious gift to be invoked, defended and built day after day with the contribution of all.

"The name Benedict evokes, moreover, the extraordinary figure of the great 'patriarch of Western monasticism', St. Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe together with Saints Cyril and Methodius. The gradual expansion of the Benedictine Order founded by him has had an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity on the whole continent. Because of this, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany and, in particular, in Bavaria, my native land. He constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a strong reminder of the inalienable Christian roots of its culture and its civilization.

"We know the recommendation left to his monks in his Rule by this Father of Western monasticism: "Prefer absolutely nothing to Christ" (Rule 72,11; cf. 4,21). At the beginning of my service as Successor of Peter, I pray to St. Benedict to help us to hold firm the centrality of Christ in our life. May He always be first in our thoughts and in all our activity!"

On April 1, the day before John Paul II's death, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was in Subiaco (where the Benedictine Order was founded) to receive the St. Benedict Price, for the promotion of life and family in Europe. In his address, he evoked the crisis that strikes the old continent, and presented terrorism as one of the greatest threats for mankind today. He lamented on the fact that in Europe, culture excludes God from "public conscience":

"In Europe, one has grown a culture that constitutes the most radical contradiction, not only with Christianity, but with the religious and moral traditions of all mankind... One must not lose sight of God, if we do not want human dignity to disappear. We need people like Benedict of Nursia who, at a time of dissipation and decay, plunged in the most extreme solitude, and managed, after all the purification he had to go through, to come back to the light and to found Montecassino, 'the city on the mount', which, with so many ruins, put together the forces from which a new world was formed."

St. Benedict saved Western civilization by christianizing it. Pope Benedict XVI has the same mission. Just as John Paul II was elected to save the Church in Eastern Europe, which was persecuted under Communism, Benedict XVI has been chosen to save the Church in the West, which is crumbling under materialism and secularism, rejecting any mention of God in public life, thus becoming an easy target of the Islamic terrorists, who see Western civilization as corrupted and not worth being saved.

Rather than building monastic enclaves against the barbarians, Pope Benedict XVI will challenge his fellow Christians to convert their cultures and to rebuild the moral foundations of Western society. Let us support our new Pope in this great endeavour!

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