The Catholic Benedict XVI, RIP

On April 19, 2005, the entire staff here at Touchstone closed up our offices, left the building, and convened next door in the home of Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon to gather around his television.

What occasioned this gathering was the announcement that white smoke had appeared over the Vatican conclave, indicating that the cardinals had selected the next pope. We all sat on the edge of our seats, with Fr. Pat providing background commentary, waiting to see what man would emerge from behind the curtains.

We breathed a collective sigh of joyful relief when Joseph Ratzinger stepped onto that balcony. And then we started cheering —and of the six or seven of us in the room that day, only one was Roman Catholic.

The cheering was partly because the choice of the man seated as the Bishop of Rome has immense repercussions throughout all of Christendom, just as much of what the Catholic Church does and says in the world is influenced by churchmen outside the Roman Catholic Church.

For the editors and staff at Touchstone, Joseph Ratzinger was “our pope” because he was a real Catholic. We didn’t want a pope who was less than fully Catholic or, God forbid, more secular in his ways. We wanted a pope who, as the fifth-century Gallic monk Vincent of Lerins put it, “will take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty.”

The editors and staff at Touchstone have welcomed the fellowship of real Catholics like Raymond Cardinal Burke, real Baptists like Al Mohler, and real Evangelicals like J. I. Packer and Harold O. J. Brown.

Touchstone is a fellowship of Christians who are committed to their own traditions and oppose the innovators, the doctrinally squishy. We depend immensely on one another, and we desire to cooperate with other likeminded Christians —those devoted to Scripture, prayer, doctrinal integrity, and the long moral consensus of the Church. Christians like the late pope, Benedict XVI. May he rest in peace.

James M. Kushiner is the Director of Publications for The Fellowship of St. James and the former Executive Editor of Touchstone.

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