Former pope asks to be removed as co-author of book in celibacy row
The former pope Benedict XVI has requested the removal of his name as the co-author of a controversial new book in which he speaks out against allowing married men to become priests, as a dispute over its publication gripped the Vatican for a third day.
“I can confirm that this morning I acted on instructions from the emeritus pope and I asked Cardinal Robert Sarah to contact the book’s publishers and request them to remove Benedict XVI’s name as co-author of the book and remove his signature from the introduction and the conclusions too,” the retired pontiff’s personal secretary, Georg Gänswein, told the news agency Ansa yesterday.
Benedict’s intervention in the book From the Depths of Our Hearts has come weeks before his reformminded successor, Francis, is expected to publish a document on whether married men may be ordained in the Amazon as a solution to a priest shortage there.
The controversy over the book underscores the conservative-progressive battle lines that have exploded in the Roman Catholic church following Benedict’s decision in 2013 to become the first pope in 598 years to retire.
Extracts of the book published by France’s Le Figaro newspaper on Sunday ignited a fresh round of briefings from backers of the current pope and traditionalists nostalgic for Benedict’s orthodoxy. The book is published in France today.
Francis’s supporters claimed Benedict, 92, had been manipulated by members of his rightwing entourage into writing something that amounted to a frontal attack on Francis.
Sarah, who heads the Vatican’s liturgy office and co-authored the book with Benedict, posted a series of letters on Twitter from the former pope making clear that he had written the text and approved its publication, after reports quoting “sources close to Benedict” claimed he had not seen or approved the finished product.