In choosing namesake, Ratzinger follows a diplomat
Although Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is known for his clashes with more liberal theologians at home in Germany, he follows a papal peace-maker in the selection of his namesake.
Pope Benedict XV, an Italian named Giacomo della Chiesa, succeeded Pope Pius X on August 20, 1914 -- just a few months after Gavrilo Princep assassinated Austrian archduke Frances Ferdinand and his wife in an event which precipitated the first World War.
As Europe entered war, Benedict XV proposed a "Christmas Truce" in 1914 and the "Seven-point Peace Note" of August 1917. These attempts were mostly ignored, and the Vatican was excluded from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, as both sides thought the Vatican was favoring the other.
France and England did resume diplomatic relations with the Vatican during the pontificate of Benedict XV. And as the war raged on, he organized a number of humanitarian efforts, including the Vatican service for prisoners of war, which helped POWs from all nations contact their families.
He enacted the Code of Canon Law in 1917 and canonized Joan of Arc.
Benedict XV died in 1922 and was succeeded by Pius XI.