A Voice for Today

If I were a contender on television’s Master Mind, I would choose as my specialist subject the pope of the First World War. Often referred to, as the ‘forgotten pope’, Giacomo Della Chiesa, or Jimmy Kirk in Scots English, became Pope Benedict XV on 3 September 1914. He was 59 years old. He died in 1922 of pneumonia, aged 67.


This new pope referred to the Great War, just beginning, as ‘Europe’s suicide’. Taking a neutral position he made overtures to all sides to end the fighting, but his efforts were met with disdain. He was even accused of being partisan in the conflict. Since no one would listen to his pleas, he turned his attention to doing what he could for those involved in the conflict, helping POWs and supplying whatever aid he could. When the war ended and nations came together to ‘make the peace’, Pope Benedict warned them that the treaty they drew up, with its punishing demands on Germany, was a vengeful document, and would lead to more trouble.


Clearly the days of Pope Benedict in office were terrible times, but the man shines clearly through them as a beacon of wisdom and diplomacy for the world. We would do well, all of us, to revisit the times of this pope, and to learn again from him the things that make for peace.


In Church matters Pope Benedict urged bishops and priests to be wholehearted preachers of the gospel. For all the great activities of public life and international relations, it is the every day preaching of the Word of God that changes the world. Many priests have forgotten this. Priests who cannot preach or hear confessions should be removed from their posts, the Holy Father said.


In today’s gospel – Luke 10:13-16 – Jesus says, ‘Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you, rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me.’ These words highlight how important the gospel is. It is the word that God speaks to us. The speaker is not so important, but what the speaker says is everything.


In the gospel we will find the word of life and the things that make for peace.


Brian Fahy

30 September 2022

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