January 15, 2020 01:41:22
Former Pope Benedict XVI wants his name removed as co-author of a new book about the issue of priestly celibacy, his personal secretary said, in the latest twist in a saga that has riveted the Roman Catholic world.
- The co-author of the book rejects accusations he manipulated Pope Benedict
- Some see the book as an appeal to Pope Francis not to change the rules on priestly celibacy
- The issue sparks debate on the role of the former pontiff who vowed to remain silent
The book, From the Depths of Our Hearts, is due to be published in France on Wednesday (local time).
Archbishop Georg Ganswein told Reuters that, at the former Pope’s behest, he had asked the co-author of the book, Cardinal Robert Sarah, to contact the publishers and make the necessary changes.
Excerpts were released over the weekend, angering some Roman Catholic scholars who said Pope Benedict risked undermining his successor, Pope Francis.
The episode has underscored the polarisation between conservatives and progressives in the 1.3 billion-member Church and prompted fresh debate on the role of a former pontiff.
Hours earlier, Cardinal Sarah rejected media accusations that he had used Pope Benedict’s name without authorisation and that he had taken advantage of the frail, 92-year-old former pontiff.
“I solemnly affirm that [Pope] Benedict XVI knew that our project would take the form of a book. I can say that we exchanged several texts to establish the corrections,” Cardinal Sarah, 74, wrote in French on Twitter.
He later said that because of the polemics, in future editions of the book, Pope Benedict would be named as a contributor and not a co-author.
“However, the full text remains absolutely unchanged,” he said.
In the book, Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah defend priestly celibacy in what some have seen as a strategically timed appeal to Pope Francis not to change the rules, following a proposal to allow older married men to be ordained on a limited basis to deal with a shortage of priests in the Amazon.
Cardinal Sarah also issued a long statement in his own defence, detailing his recent meetings with Pope Benedict and restating that the former pope was informed of everything, including the cover of the book.
He said accusations that he was manipulating Pope Benedict were “despicable” and that his allegiance to Pope Francis was “total”.
He also published a signed letter from Pope Benedict in which the former pope wrote in Italian: “For my part the text can be published in the form you have foreseen.”
The episode has sparked heated debate, including on social media far from the Vatican, on the role Pope Benedict should have, if any, and whether he is being used by others.
Pope Benedict vowed to remain “hidden from the world” when he became the first pope in 700 years to resign in 2013.
But he has given interviews, written articles and contributed to books, in effect breaking that pledge and cheering conservatives.
Pope Benedict caused a stir with an essay last year in which he blamed the Churche’s sexual abuse scandal on the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
Many Catholic theologians and abuse experts rebuked him, saying he was trying to shift the blame away from the Church.
January 15, 2020 01:38:15