In a book entitled From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy, and the Crisis of the Catholic Church, a work co-authored with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the former Roman pontiff warns against the priestly ordination of married men, who, if it were to be allowed, would constitute “a pastoral catastrophe” in his eyes.
Benedict XVI, since his resignation in 2013, has rarely broken his reticence, in any case never in the form of a book co-authored with his friend Robert Sarah, the current prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This book is therefore of particular importance.
If the former pope and the high Guinean prelate took care to present themselves as “two bishops” in “filial obedience,” who “seek the truth,” it is because of the proceedings of the recent Synod on the Amazon that they were pushed to react: “Silere non possum, I cannot be silent,” they write, paraphrasing St. Augustine.
Incidentally, the former pope speaks of “the strange media synod” which would take precedence over the real synod. It is the same device he used on February 14, 2013, invoking a “media council” that would have left the real council aside.
Sweeping away the thesis according to which priestly celibacy is only a late law in the discipline of the Church, the authors show that the essence of celibacy has its roots in Scripture, and warn against a purely functional vision of the Church.
“It is urgent, necessary, that everyone, bishops, priests, and lay people, no longer allow themselves to be impressed by bad pleas, theatrical productions, diabolical lies, and fashionable errors that seek to devalue priestly celibacy,” decried the two authors, in a criticism which seems to apply as much to the Pan-Amazon synod, as to the pitiful aggiornamento in which the Church of Germany proceeding to engage.
Shortly after the publication of the advance sheets in Le Figaro on January 13, Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See, iminimized the significance of the work, presenting it as a simple “contribution on priestly celibacy, in filial obedience to the pope,” insisting on the fact that the continence of the major clerics “is not and never has been a dogma,” but rather “a precious gift,” in support of what Pope Francis has already expressed.
In Vatican Insider – an information site very close to Andrea Tornielli – Salavatore Cernuzzio is more incisive about the former Roman pontiff and Cardinal Sarah: “The fact that the 92-year-old Pope Emeritus, already a bulwark of the sedevacantist currents, has chosen to co-author a book, with a cardinal acclaimed by the ultra-traditionalist branch is bound to raise concerns.” For his part, Nicolas Sénèze of La Croix sees it as “a nasty blow to the pope’s back” (sic).
Anticipating the many comments that the work could not fail to arouse, Cardinal Sarah clarified in advance to Jean-Marie Guénois of Figaro: “We have acted in a spirit of love for the Church and the pope. Ideology divides, truth unites hearts. Examining the doctrine of faith can only unite the Church around Christ and the Holy Father.”
FSSPX.News will soon offer an analysis of the book when it is published. But it seems surprising that this book could have appeared without Francis’s permission.