Benedict XVI Steps Back From Book That Put Him at Odds With Pope Francis

Pope Francis embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI before opening the Holy Door to mark opening of the Catholic Holy Year, or Jubilee, in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, on Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo by Osservatore Romano/Handout via AP)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI asked Tuesday (Jan. 14) not to be mentioned as co-author of a book scheduled for release in February, according to a close aide. Excerpts from the book published on Monday appeared to place the ex-pope at odds with Pope Francis on priestly celibacy.

“This morning, on the request of the emeritus Pope, I have asked Cardinal Sarah to contact the editors of the book, begging them to eliminate the name of Benedict XVI as coauthor of the same book and to also eliminate his signature from the introduction and the conclusion,” said Georg Gänswein, prefect of the pontifical household and private secretary to Benedict.

The book in question, “From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy, and the Crisis of the Catholic Church,” was publicized as being co-authored by Benedict with Cardinal Robert Sarah, who heads the Vatican department for Divine Liturgy.

The book’s publishing house in the United States, Ignatus Press, released a statement on Tuesday where they said that they received the text from the French publisher Fayard, which stated that Benedict XVI wrote the introduction, conlusion and an entire chapter on celibacy.

“Given that, according to Benedict XVI’s correspondence and Cardinal Sarah’s statement, the two men collaborated on this book for several months, that none of the essays have appeared elsewhere, and that a joint work as defined by the Chicago Manual of Style is  ‘a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contribution be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole’, Ignatius Press considers this a coauthored publication,” the statement read.

The book is scheduled to be published in the United States mid February.

In the introduction, signed by Benedict and published by the French daily Le Figaro, the authors spoke in favor of celibacy for priests, stating that marriage and the priesthood require such an absolute dedication that “it doesn’t seem possible to realize both vocations simultaneously.”

These remarks came at a time when Pope Francis is considering allowing tested married men, called viri probati, to become priests in remote areas where clergy are scarce. This is the case for the Amazon region, which was addressed by a synod of bishops in October. Francis is expected to release his document on the synod in March.

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Source: Religion News Service