By Bianca M. Caraza
When he was elected pope on April 16, 2005, the then Cardinal Ratzinger took the name Benedict XVI. He explained during his first General Audience in 2005 that his chosen name was not only an homage to Benedict XV, the “prophet of peace” who pursued an end to World War II, but to St. Benedict of Nursia, a co-patron of Europe and saint by whom the Benedictine monks were founded. The date of his election was also significant, as it marks the feast day of St. Leo IX, another reformative German pope. His holiness Pope Benedict XVI was elected at the sagacious age of 78, making him the oldest man to be elected Pope since the 18th century. The Vatican online cites his papal motto as cooperatores veritatis, which means “cooperators of truth,” a saying that sums up his theological and academic commitment to an objective and unifying truth.
Among his many contributions to the Church during his papacy, his holiness has worked tirelessly to oversee the canonization process on behalf of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Not even a full month after his election to the papacy, Pope Benedict released his response to the examination of Pope John Paul II’s cause for beatification and canonization, which explained that the normal five year wait for beatification would be waved in this case due to “exceptional circumstances.” Thanks to the Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome and Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II’s case was examined earlier than expected, and on May 1, 2011, he was beatified.
Another important achievement of Pope Benedict’s has been the elevation of the Tridentine Mass. “Tridentine” refers to the Council of Trent, in which the Catholic doctrine was reaffirmed. The “older form” of mass was the most commonly celebrated until the Second Vatican Council. After Pope Benedict XVI’s election, he eased restrictions on the older mass, encouraging congregations to celebrate the beautiful Latin masses that he had grown up with. In this way, his holiness once again reaffirmed his beliefs in the traditions and holy rites of our Church.
Still an incredible scholar and theologian well into his papacy, his holiness Pope Benedict XVI will release the third and final installment of his Jesus of Nazareth series later this year. You can check out his new book here, and don’t forget to visit the Image Books site for book updates.