Contrary to earlier media reports, the name taken by the new Pope, Benedict XVI, was not inspired by the former Pope by that name but by St. Benedict, the co-patron of Europe and founder of western monasticism, suggests Fr. Joseph Fession.
St. Benedict and the monastic movement was key in the growth of Christianity in Europe in the sixth century.
Interpreting the name as a reference to St. Benedict would indicate defending and promoting the faith in Europe, where Christianity has steadily declined in the last century, would be central to the new Pope’s mission, Culture of Life Foundation board member Fr. Joseph Fessio told CNN.
The name, however, has also been interpreted as a tribute to Pope Benedict XV, who led the Church from 1914 to 1922, and promulgated the first Code of Canon Law. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger helped produce the second edition of the Code of Canon Law.
Given Pope Benedict XV’s respect among Turkish Muslims for his work with refugees during World War I, some have said that perhaps Pope Benedict XVI means to pursue peaceful relations with Muslim countries.