2 popes cause furor over celibacy is­sue

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­COLE WIN­FIELD

Pope Bene­dict reaf­firms need for celi­bate priest­hood while Pope Fran­cis weighs whether to or­dain mar­ried men.

VAT­I­CAN CITY — Ever since Bene­dict XVI an­nounced he would be­come the first pope in 600 years to resign, Catholic the­olo­gians, canon lawyers and oth­ers warned of the po­ten­tial con­fu­sion in hav­ing two popes liv­ing side by side in the Vat­i­can, one reign­ing, the other re­tired but call­ing him­self “emer­i­tus pope” and still wear­ing the white cas­sock of the pa­pacy.

Their worst fears came true this week.

In a saga be­fit­ting the Os­car-nom­i­nated movie “The Two Popes,” Bene­dict co-wrote a book reaf­firm­ing the “ne­ces­sity” of a celi­bate priest­hood. There was noth­ing novel with his po­si­tion, but the book is com­ing out at the same time Pope Fran­cis is weigh­ing whether to or­dain mar­ried men in the Ama­zon be­cause of a pri­est short­age there.

The im­pli­ca­tions of Bene­dict’s in­ter­ven­tion were grave, since the is­sue of priestly celibacy is per­haps the most con­se­quen­tial and con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion on the cur­rent pope’s agenda. It raised the specter of a par­al­lel of­fi­cial church teach­ing at a time when the church is po­lar­ized be­tween con­ser­va­tives long­ing for the ortho­dox pu­rity of Bene­dict and pro­gres­sives cheer­ing Fran­cis’ lib­er­al­iz­ing re­forms.

“It’s one thing to pub­lish, as a pri­vate cit­i­zen, a book about Je­sus as Bene­dict did be­fore he re­signed,” the Rev. Jean-Fran­cois Ch­i­ron, a the­olo­gian at the Univer­sity of Lyon, wrote in the French Catholic daily La Croix. “It’s an­other thing to take sides in im­por­tant, cur­rent ques­tions.”

On Tues­day, Bene­dict dis­tanced him­self from the pub­li­ca­tion and asked to be re­moved as the co-au­thor of the book, “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” which is com­ing out in English next month.

The book’s English-lan­guage pub­lisher, Ig­natius Press said the book would carry Bene­dict’s name as co-au­thor.


For­mer Pope Bene­dict XVI, right, has pub­licly urged Pope Fran­cis not to open the priest­hood up to mar­ried men.

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