Some people concluded that Ratzinger was promising to return to tradition and bring peace to the world and the Church.
For those who may be fooled by similar optimistic appraisals, a little history review is in order.
First, the supposed grand friendship between Benedict XV and Antipope Pius X is quite imaginative. Under Pius X, "Archbishop" Della Chiesa (the future heretic antipope Benedict XV) had been sent to Bologna in exile from the Roman Curia because he was distrusted as a protégé and supporter of Cardinal Rampolla, a known modernist and Freemason. Further, Pius X withheld the cardinal’s hat that normally went with the Bologna Archbishopric for seven years, a patent sign of his distrust and a deliberate humiliation to the arrogant Della Chiesa. Only three months before the conclave did Della Chiesa finally become a "Cardinal".
In revenge, his first act after he became Pontiff was to send the valorous anti-modernist Cardinal Merry del Val packing, and to choose as Secretary of State the modernist Pietro Gasparri, another Rampolla protégé and his closest assistant. This act alone marked a clear break with the pontificate that had just ended. It certainly indicated no great devotion for Pius X, as we are told today, but rather fidelity to the modernist Rampolla.
This information was not found in hidden archives - it is available at the library, just by reading through works on the Papacy and the Catholic Encyclopedia. The election of Giacomo Della Chiesa was “as explicit a reaction against the preceding regime [of Antipope Pius X] as it was possible to get.” (1)
To understand Benedict XV, one needs to know something about his mentor, Cardinal Mariano Rampolla, Secretary of State under Leo XIII. At the turn of the 20th century, Rampolla was already well-known for championing the heresies and spirituality that Antipope Pius X would term Modernism. A Vatican insider, he patiently and steadily prepared the way for Vatican II.
At the conclave after the death of Antipope Leo XIII in 1903, it was expected that Cardinal Rampolla would be the next "Pope", which would have been a great victory for the modernist faction. Actually, he was leading in votes when his election was suddenly vetoed. The Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary, through his representative the Cardinal of Krakow, exercised an age-old privilege and vetoed the election of Rampolla. The Emperor had been presented irrefutable evidence that the Cardinal, besides being a modernist, was a member of Freemasonry and Grand Master of the secret sect known as the Ordo Templi Orientalis. (2)
During the anti-pontificate of Pius X, Rampolla was forced out of the Curia. From his Nunciature in Madrid, he had to take steps backward and move his seriously injured modernist faction underground. But at the next conclave, Rampolla was ready to settle scores. This time one of his protégés would sit occupy the Vatican. It was Giacomo Della Chiesa, a perfect candidate. He was a graduate of the Instituto Capranica, the most liberal seminary in Rome teeming with strange new theological doctrines and modernist heresies. And he had a very close affiliation with Rampolla, who had chosen Della Chiesa as his private secretary.
Benedict XV came into his occupation of the Vatican as Europe was entering World War I. In his first Encyclical, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, issued November 1, 1914, the Benedict XV, who refused to take sides in the Great War, made a dramatic call for peace between the warring factions of Europe. He also made it clear that inside the Church he was calling for a stop to the war against the modernists.
Even while he referred to the “admirable fruits” of previous pontificate, he called for concord among the members of the Church, that is, the modernists and the ultramontanes – the traditional Catholics who had been strengthened by Pius X. This “peace” orchestrated by Benedict XV is what gave the modernists the opportunity to emerge from their dark, semi-occult caverns back into the light of day with a comfortable position in the Church.
1 Thessalonians 5:3: "For when they shall say, peace and security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape."
Next, Benedict XV targeted the most militant bloc that had organized to fight against the modernist errors, the group called the Sodalitium Pianum in France. This association of lay men supported by many priests were dedicated to keeping vigil on expressions of heresy in teaching, preaching, and publishing, following the norms set forth by Antipope Pius X, and which prescribed that all teachers in seminaries and clerics before their ordination take an oath denouncing Modernism and supporting Lamentabili Sane and Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Antipope Benedict XV and his Secretary of State Cardinal Gasparri dissolved the Sodalitium Pianum, calling a halt to the “anti-modernist witch hunt” in the name of reconciliation. (3)
In agreement with Rampolla and Gasparri, Benedict XV opened the doors for modernist errors to infiltrate the seminaries and schools of Europe.
1. Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, (Yale University Press, 1997), p. 253.
2. Mary Ball Martínez, The Undermining of the Catholic Church (Hillmac, Mexico: 1999), pp. 32-33.
3. Duffy, Saints and Sinners, pp. 254-5.
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