Pope Benedict XVI breaks si­lence

Antelope Valley Press - - SECOND FRONT -

VAT­I­CAN CITY (AP) — Re­tired Pope Benedict XVI has bro­ken his si­lence to reaf­firm the value of priestly celibacy, co-au­thor­ing a bomb­shell book at the pre­cise mo­ment that Pope Fran­cis is weigh­ing whether to al­low mar­ried men to be or­dained to ad­dress the Catholic priest short­age.

Benedict wrote the book, “From the Depths of Our Hearts: Pri­est­hood, Celibacy and the Cri­sis of the Catholic Church,” along with his fel­low con­ser­va­tive, Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, who heads the Vat­i­can’s liturgy of­fice and has been a quiet critic of Fran­cis.

The French daily Le Fi­garo pub­lished ex­cerpts of the book late Sun­day; The As­so­ci­ated Press ob­tained gal­leys of the English edi­tion, which is be­ing pub­lished by Ig­natius Press.

Benedict’s in­ter­ven­tion is ex­tra­or­di­nary, given he had promised to re­main “hid­den from the world” when he re­tired in 2013 and pledged his obe­di­ence to the new pope. He has largely held to that pledge, though he penned an odd es­say last year on the sex­ual abuse scan­dal that blamed the cri­sis on the sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion of the 1960s.

His reaf­fir­ma­tion of priestly celibacy, how­ever, gets to the heart of a fraught pol­icy is­sue that Fran­cis is ex­pected to weigh in on, and could well be con­sid­ered a pub­lic at­tempt by the former pope to sway the think­ing of the cur­rent one. The im­pli­ca­tions for such an in­ter­ven­tion are grave, and are likely to fuel re­newed anx­i­ety about the un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion of two popes, one re­tired and one reign­ing, liv­ing side by side in the Vat­i­can gar­dens.

The au­thors clearly an­tic­i­pated that po­ten­tial in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and stressed in their joint in­tro­duc­tion that they were pen­ning the book “in a spirit of fil­ial obe­di­ence, to Pope Fran­cis.”

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