On September 3, 1914, barely per month following the outbreak of World War I, Giacomo della Chiesa is elected to the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, becoming Pope Benedict XV.
An aristocratic native of Genoa, Italy, who had served as a cardinal due to the fact the prior May, Benedict succeeded Pius X, who died on August 20, 1914. He was elected by way of a constituency comprised of cardinals from nations on both sides of the battle lines, because he professed strict neutrality in the conflict simply. Calling the Great War “the suicide of Europe,” Benedict became an insistent voice for peace from the starting of his reign, despite the fact that his calls have been ignored by the belligerent powers roundly.
After proposing the idea of a simple Christmas truce in 1914 devoid of success-although some pauses in the fighting did happen spontaneously in a number of areas over the Western Front that Christmas, initiated by the soldiers-Benedict begun to drop influence even within Italy as that nation readied itself to become listed on the war effort. In the months preceding Italy’s declaration of war on Austria-Hungary in May 1915, Benedict’s steady urging for peace was viewed as interfering with the national will to fight. In the Treaty of London, which set the situations for Italy’s participation in the war, the Allies agreed with Italy that any peace overtures from the Vatican to the Central Powers should be ignored.
On August 1, 1917, Benedict issued a seven-point peace proposal addressed to “the heads of the belligerent peoples.” In it, the want was expressed by him for a cessation of hostilities, common reduced amount of armaments, freedom of the seas and international arbitration of any territorial queries between the warring nations. The proposal was broadly rejected by all of the warring powers, which were by this true point focused on a complete victory and wouldn’t normally contemplate compromise. To make matters worse, both sides saw the Vatican as prejudiced and only another and refused to simply accept the pope’s terms. This circumstance continued in the immediate post-armistice period, when regardless of its entreaties to be engaged in the determination of the peace settlement, Benedict’s Vatican was excluded from the Paris Peace Conference, held at Versailles in 1919.