From the Depths of Our Hearts (Ignatius Press)
In the wake of the Amazon synod, many Catholics are left questioning their faith and the Church. During the synod, we saw idol worship in the Vatican gardens, the push for women to have a role in the church as deacons, and serious discussions about opening the door for married priests. There were a few notable prelates who did stand up and speak out against the abject heresies being presented during the synod, but for the most part, the men wearing the red were silent.
However, just a few days ago, it was announced that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah were releasing a book on celibacy and the priesthood. Twitter exploded with reactions on both sides, both in favor of the book and against it, and all of this occurring before anyone has read the book. It turns out that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah had started working on this book around August/September, perhaps in expectation of the Amazon synod, which at the time, was rumored to introduce married priests.
The description on the Ignatius Press website gives the following description of the contents: “The priesthood is going through a dark time,” writes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah. “Wounded by the revelation of so many scandals, disconcerted by the constant questioning of their consecrated celibacy, many priests are tempted by the thought of giving up and abandoning everything.” It goes on to say, "Responding to calls for refashioning the priesthood, including proposals from the Amazonian Synod, two wise, spiritually astute pastors explain the biblical and spiritual role of the priesthood, celibacy, and genuine priestly ministry. Drawing on Vatican II, they present priestly celibacy as more than “a mere precept of ecclesiastical law”. They insist that renewal of the Church is bound to a renewed understanding of priestly vocation as sharing in Jesus’ priestly identity as Bridegroom of the Church."
The repercussions of a seemingly innocuous defense of the priesthood were felt within hours of the announcement. Suddenly, it was said that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wanted his name removed from the book, and some said that he had not contributed to it at all, despite a detailed chronology from Cardinal Sarah, complete with copies of communications between himself and the Pope Emeritus. Ignatius Press has stood its ground and has refused to remove Pope Emeritus Benedict's name from the title, as he clearly was a co-author.
One has to wonder at the sudden backtracking. Dare we ask if, perhaps, Benedict XVI was threatened once this was made public and forced to deny his contribution? And if so, why? Both have expressed their filial obedience to Pope Francis. It will remain to be seen in the days and weeks to come, especially once the book is released in February, and once Pope Francis writes his apostolic exhortation.