1. The current pope choose the name Benedict XVI.
2. Benedict XV was pope before, during, and the World War I. He is known as the Peace Pope. He tried and failed to prevent war from breaking out. He tried and failed to prevent the victors from imposing a grossly punative peace settlement on the Germans.
3. Many believe the WWII was a direct result of the peace. (The economist John Maynard Keynes predicted the peace would lead to war. See his compelling argument, The Economic Consequences of the Peace. (The success of the Marshall Plan seems to prove the argument.)
4. The lives the last two popes were defined by WWII. They passed through WWII as teenagers and young adults. One was a Pole, the other a German and a member of the Nazi Youth.
5. These two became close confidants and friends. I heard someone say they completed each other.
6. It is easy to imagine that the source of John Paul's ministry to young people was born in the harsh reality of his youth, when life as he knew it was dreadfully changed. It seems worth speculating that Benedict has chosen the name because he wants to focus on the collective sin of war and not upon the conservative standards of individual morality with which he is associated. John Paul focused upon individual sin and what he believed it means to be a good person. Perhaps it is time now to go back to some unfinished business dealing with collective sin of society.
7. The Catholic Church would like to have more influence for good than it has in preventing war and in fostering peaceful and durable solutions to conflict around the globe. These persist.
8. Only Nixon can go to China. Perhaps only Ratzinger can revisit the tragedies of the WWI and WWII and find something in them that will plant the seed of peace in Europe (where it is still very much needed). And to build from there.
The name Benedict doesn't sound friendly, but I take it Benedict means good word. Things aren't always what they seem. Last night over a glass of wine we were trying to work out the literal meaning of Ratzinger. It was suggested it means advisor from Munich. Sounds plausible.
UPDATE: I'll gather other Episcopalians' thoughts on our new pope here as I encounter them. (1) The Riverstone Journal