Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has asked that his name be removed from a controversial book calling for the Catholic Church to maintain its requirement for celibacy among priests, The National Catholic Reporter reports. His position puts him at odds with that of his successor, and the fact that he has taken a stance on a doctrinal issue could cause thorny issues within the Church.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the former Pope, who resigned from the papacy in 2013, co-authored a book with Cardinal Robert Sarah titled From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church. In the book, the two clerics call for the church to maintain the centuries-old practice of clerical celibacy.
“The priesthood of Jesus Christ causes us to enter into a life that consists of becoming one with him and renouncing all that belongs only to us. For priests, this is the foundation of the necessity of celibacy,” Benedict writes.
However, in a Tuesday tweet, in French, Sarah said that Benedict’s name will be removed from the book.
Considérant les polémiques qu’a provoqué la parution de l’ouvrage Des profondeurs de nos cœurs, il est décidé que l’auteur du livre sera pour les publications à venir : Card Sarah, avec la contribution de Benoît XVI. En revanche, le texte complet demeure absolument inchangé. +RS
— Cardinal R. Sarah (@Card_R_Sarah) January 14, 2020
Translated, the tweet reads as follows:
“Considering the controversies that provoked the publication of the book ‘From The Depths of Our Hearts,’ it was decided that the author for future publications would be Cardinal Sarah, with contributions by Benedict XVI. On the other hand, the full text remains absolutely unchanged.”
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s private secretary, insists that the former Pope had much less to do with the book than what Sarah is letting on, saying that Benedict only contributed an essay to the publication.
“He never approved any project for a coauthored book, and never saw nor authorized the cover,” the archbishop told Italy’s Ansa news agency.
The reaffirmation of the need for papal celibacy comes at a time when the Church’s current leader, Pope Francis I, has been obliquely hinting that the time may be coming to make some minor tweaks to the policy. Specifically, the pontiff is rumored to be considering allowing older, married men in one specific region to be ordained as priests.
That region is the Amazon, where there are so few practicing priests that some Catholics can go for months without celebrating Mass with an ordained priest.
In a larger sense, however, the idea of Benedict writing a book about a doctrinal issue creates some internal headaches for Vatican leadership. That’s because Benedict’s retirement from the papacy was supposed to be followed by a life of quiet simplicity and obedience to his successor, Pope Francis. Writing a book in which he takes a position that is at odds with the current pontiff could, theoretically anyway, result in a situation in which two major Catholic leaders are advancing competing ideologies.