From Catholic New Report:
A new book by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah will discuss the priesthood and clerical celibacy, and what the authors see as threats and challenges facing priestly ministry in the Church today.
From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy, and the Crisis of the Catholic Church, co-authored by the former pontiff and the current prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, will be published in English by Ignatius Press [which Spirit Daily will carry in our bookstore next month; preorder here]. The book came into being during the summer and fall of 2019, as the worldwide Church’s attention was turning to the Vatican’s Synod on the Amazon, which examined questions surrounding priestly ministry and celibacy in particular.
In a move that has stunned many in Rome and is sure to give rise to serious questions far beyond the theme of the book, the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who will be 93 in April, and Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, have coauthored a book defending celibacy for priests of the Latin Rite Church and expressing their total opposition to the ordination of married men, which was one of the recommendations approved by last October’s Synod for the Pan-Amazonian region. They perceive this opening to the ordination of married men as a great danger to the Church.
The authors present themselves “as bishops” in “filial obedience to Pope Francis” who “seek the truth” in “a spirit of love of the unity of the church,” far from “the ideologies that divide” and far from “political maneuvers or power games or ideological manipulations.” They said it is not possible “to keep quiet” after “the strange synod of the media.”
From National Public Radio:
Retired Pope Benedict XVI, who promised to remain silent when he resigned as head of the Roman Catholic Church seven years ago, has stepped back into the ongoing debate over priestly celibacy with a new book defending the traditionalist view.
The surprise move is seen as a rebuke to Pope Francis, who is weighing the possibility of a revolutionary move to relax the strict celibacy requirement for ordination in some South American countries where the shortage of priests is particularly acute.
In the as-yet-unpublished book, whose title translates as From the Depths of Our Hearts, Benedict and his co-author, Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, defend the “necessity” of celibacy in the priesthood. On Sunday, the French newspaper Le Figaro printed excerpts, which were also obtained by The Associated Press.
“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,” the Pope emeritus writes. “For priests, this is the foundation of the necessity of celibacy but also of liturgical prayer, meditation on the Word of God and the renunciation of material goods.”
In countries such as Brazil, a shortage of priests prevents many faithful from attending Mass for months at a time. In October, a month-long meeting of senior clergy in South America, the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, ended with a vote to suggest that the Pope allow older, married men to be ordained to fill the shortfall.
Francis is said to be preparing a response to the synod’s recommendation.
In a joint introduction, the co-authors said they had written “in a spirit of filial obedience, to Pope Francis.” However, they also said the current “crisis” in the church compelled them to speak out.
In one passage, Sarah addresses the current Pontiff directly: “I humbly beg Pope Francis to … veto any weakening of the law of priestly celibacy, even limited to one or the other region.”
“It is urgent and necessary for everyone — bishops, priests and lay people — to stop letting themselves be intimidated by the wrong-headed pleas, the theatrical productions, the diabolical lies and the fashionable errors that try to put down priestly celibacy,” the authors write, adding that the practice helps the Church “[protect] her mystery.”
Upon stepping down from the papacy on Feb. 28, 2013, the conservative Benedict pledged to remain “hidden from the world” and promised “unconditional reverence and obedience” to his successor.
Massimo Faggioli, a noted historian and theologian at Villanova University, told the National Catholic Reporter that Benedict’s decision to write the book was a “serious breach.”
“It interferes with a synodal process that is still unfolding after the Amazon synod … and threatens to limit the freedom of the one Pope,” Faggioli said.