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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