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The former pope Benedict XVI said he "cannot remain silent" as his successor Pope Francis considers easing the prohibition on married men serving as priests. Those comments were made in the book released on Wednesday, titled "From the Depths of Our Hearts" which he co-authored with Cardinal Robert Sarah.
"We can say: 'Silere non possum! I cannot remain silent!'" Benedict and Sarah wrote in a joint introduction to the book, according to excerpts released by French daily newspaper Le Figaro on Sunday. Benedict also wrote that he believes celibacy carries "great significance" and is "truly essential" as a priest's path to God becomes the foundation of his life.
"The call to follow Jesus is not possible without this sign of freedom and of renunciation of all commitments," he wrote. "Celibacy must penetrate, with its requirements, all of the attitudes of existence."
The disagreements have occurred because Pope Francis agreed in October to consider a request from bishops in the Amazon to allow married men to become ordained in order to overcome a shortage of clerics in remote areas of the region. The proposal, which is awaiting approval by Francis, would be a historic change to the church's centuries-old tradition of unmarried priests. The problem is that if approved, such a move could lead to questioning the discipline of celibacy around the world.
Now, the former pope has requested the removal of his name as the co-author of the book.
“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 Italian news agency Ansa on Tuesday.
“I solemnly affirm that Benedict XVI knew that our project would take the form of a book. I can say that we exchanged many drafts to make corrections,” Sarah, who heads the Vatican’s liturgy office and co-authored the book with Benedict, said.
“The pope emeritus knew that the cardinal was preparing a book and he sent him a text on the priesthood authorizing him to use it as he wanted. But he did not approve a project for a co-authored book, and he had not seen or authorized the cover,” Gänswein said.
Sarah tweeted later that future publications of the book would name him as the sole author “with the contribution of Benedict XVI.”
“Considering the controversies that provoked the publication of the book “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” it is decided that the author of the book will be for the further publications: Cardinal Sarah, with the contribution of Benedict XVI,” he said. “However, the full text remains absolutely unchanged.”