Benedict XV Elected Pope Hot

Benedict XV Elected Pope

Pope Benedict XV, 1914

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Benedict XV is elected pope, just over three months after being made a cardinal and a little over a month after the outbreak of World War I. This war will produce unheard-of death and devastation in Europe and will shatter many people's faith in modern science, rationality and modernity in general.

Benedict himself will be rendered largely inconsequential during the war — although he pursues neutrality even while he condemns atrocities, his peace proposals will be rejected. When the final peace settlement is negotiated, he will have no role at all.

In fact, his efforts to remain completely neutral will result in both sides of the conflict regarding him as being complicit with the other. He will create a "missing persons" agency to help people displaced during the war be reunited with each other, but he will have to close it down because various governments grow suspicious that it is being used for espionage.

Benedict will also be active in the effort to unify all of Christianity under a single leadership (namely, the pope). To that end, he establishes the Congregation for the Oriental Church and the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome in 1917 as part of the long-standing Catholic desire to bring the Eastern Orthodox churches under Roman control.

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