Benedict XVI co-authors book defending priestly celibacy 

The cover of the new book (CNS/Ignatius Press)

Since marriage and priesthood both demand the total devotion and self-giving of a man to his vocation, “it does not seem possible to realise both vocations simultaneously”, retired Pope Benedict XVI writes in a new book. Source: CNS.

By Cindy Wooden, CNS

From the Depths of Our Hearts, a defence of priestly celibacy, has an introduction and conclusion written jointly by the retired pope and by Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, and one chapter written by each of them alone.

The French newspaper Le Figaro published excerpts yesterday from the original French edition.

In a chapter signed by both the retired pope and the cardinal, they said the book resulted from an exchange of “ideas and our concerns,” particularly related to the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, which heard repeated calls for considering the ordination of married elders to serve far-flung communities and provide greater access to the Eucharist and other sacraments.

Pope Francis’ response to the requests of the Synod is expected early in the year. Observers noted how unusual it was for the retired pope to intervene publicly on an issue the reigning Pope is considering.

Cardinal Sarah and Pope Benedict seemed to recognise how unusual the move was, but they wrote, “‘Silere non possum!’ I cannot be silent!”

The two said they offered their reflections “in a spirit of love for the unity of the Church.”

In a separate interview with Le Figaro, Cardinal Sarah said, “If this book is a cry, it’s a cry of love for the Church, the Pope, the priests and all Christians. We want this book to be read as widely as possible. The crisis facing the Church is striking.”

Last January, speaking to reporters flying back from Panama with him, Pope Francis said, “Personally, I believe that celibacy is a gift to the Church.”

“I’m not in agreement with allowing optional celibacy,” he said. “A phrase St Paul VI said comes to mind: ‘I would rather give my life than to change the law on celibacy.'”

However, he did say “there could be some possibility” of ordaining married men in very remote locations where there are Catholic communities that seldom have Mass because there are no priests. But, even for that situation, much study would need to be done.

FULL STORY

Retired Pope, Vatican cardinal write book defending priestly celibacy (CNS)

RELATED COVERAGE

A contribution on priestly celibacy in filial obedience to the Pope (Vatican News)

In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests (NCR Online)

Benedict is defending celibacy from the media, not from Francis (Crux

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