Pope Benedict XV
Pope Benedict XV (Giacomo della Chiesa) guided the Church through the tumultuous years of World War I and the ensuing geopolitical realignment of Europe (1914-1922). Benedict's years in the Vatican Diplomatic Corps under Leo XIII had prepared him to confront what he dubbed "the suicide of Europe." Elected only weeks after the outbreak of hostilities, his continual calls for a cessation of violence drew the scorn of European leaders, and his seven-point Papal Peace Proposal (1917) was dismissed. Throughout the war, Benedict organized massive humanitarian efforts on behalf of victims and established a Vatican Bureau of Communication for soldiers to contact their families. His legacy as a tireless advocate of peace was invoked when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger took the name Benedict XVI upon his election in 2005.