Former pope asks to be re­moved as co-author of book in celibacy row

The Guardian - - World - Lorenzo Tondo

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.

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