A Saintly Monarch
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Tuesday, 20 September 2005

The history and development of almost all European countries have been strongly influenced by their monarchies.

With the accession of Pope Benedict, attention has been drawn to the life of the last Pope bearing this name, Benedict XV, who attempted to bring the nations to peace during the First World War.

At his first General Audience in St. Peter's Square, on 27April 2005, the new Pope referred to his namesake as a “courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples.”

Benedict’s memory is closely intertwined with that of the last reigning Habsburg, Karl I of Austria, also known as Charles, who was closely involved with the Pope’s peace initiative.

Karl reigned in the most difficult circumstances. He became heir to the throne of the Austro Hungarian Empire on June 28, 1914, following the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, an event which led to the First World War.

With the death of the Emperor Francis Joseph, on 21 November, 1916, he became Emperor Karl I of Austria. He also reigned as King Charles V of Bohemia and as King Charles IV, apostolic King of Hungary.

When Karl was beatified, Pope John Paul II observed;

"Amid the tumult of the First World War, he strove to promote the peace initiative of my Predecessor, Benedict XV. From the beginning, the Emperor Karl conceived of his office as a holy service to his people. His chief concern was to follow the Christian vocation to holiness also in his political actions. For this reason, his thoughts turned to social assistance. May he be an example for all of us, especially for those who have political responsibilities in Europe today!"

Karl strongly believed that his most sacred duty was to achieve peace for his people. He was the only one among political leaders to support Pope Benedict XV’s peace efforts.

And despite the extremely difficult times he initiated wide and exemplary social legislation, inspired by social Christian teaching.

He was the last person to be beatified by Pope John Paul II, who had been named after him

On the anniversary of his beatification, a Mass will be celebrated on 2 October in the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney in the presence of members of the diplomatic and consular corps, cultural representatives, and it is hoped, the Knights of Malta.

The intention of the Mass is to seek from God peace in the world and the brotherhood of nations.

The principal celebrant will be His Lordship, Bishop Anthony Fisher, O.P., Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney

The Mass will be celebrated at St Dominic's Catholic Church, Flemington, on the corner of Hornsey Rd and The Crescent, Homebush West, Opposite Flemington Railway Station on Sunday, Oct. 2nd 2005, 7.30 p.m. The Parish Priest of St. Dominic’s, Father Anthony Robbie advises that “All are welcome to join us for this happy event."

Until next time,

David Flint