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Pope Benedict XV elected

by
12 September 2014

September 11th, 1914.

The Church Times congratulated the Roman conclave on choosing the strongest cardinal as the new pope, Benedict XV. "He is younger than most Popes have been at their accession, and this makes a continuous policy for a number of years probable." A leading article said: 

WE ARE compelled to look back to Leo XIII. if we would attempt an estimate of the probable course of the new pontificate. But of Benedict XV. himself little is known, and any estimate, may prove false. He succeeds to the papal chair at a critical moment. In the prophecies attributed to St Malachy, probably composed at the close of the sixteenth century, his motto is Religio depopulata. These forecasts have no proper value, but some of them have been curiously felicitous. None more so than this. The new Pope surveys a Christendom ravaged by unbelief. His predecessor's narrow and obscurantist piety has encouraged a certain concentration of religion which has unquestionable value, but which accentuates the isolation of the leaven that should work in the lump. . . It is not to be expected that the Pope will show himself a partisan in the controversy of nations. If his heart bleeds for the desolation of Belgium and the wanton destruction of the greatest seat of learning in his communion [Louvain], he has a no less devoted flock in the Rhineland, and it would be strange to see him favouring England, Russia and anti-clerical France, at the expense of that Habsburg Monarchy which is still the chief State nominally adhering to his pastorate. Yet he must be aware that the teaching of Nietzsche dominates the policy of Germany, and threatens the very base of practical Christianity. . .

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