Benedict XVI contributes to book on celibacy, as Pope Francis studies exceptions to this norm

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In a few days, Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah will publish a short book in defense of the celibacy. It will be available in French and English.

The text was made public as Pope Francis is simultaneously reflecting on the proposal to allow the ordination of married permanent deacons to the priesthood in specific cases, only in the Amazon. The proposal was supported by 72 percent of participants in the last synod.

The book is titled “From the Depths of Our Hearts.” Benedict XVI and Card. Sarah wrote the prologue and conclusion together. In addition, they each contributed an article on the issue.

Benedict says given that the conjugal state affects all of man, and that the service of the Lord requires also a complete giving of man, “it does not seem possible to realize both vocations simultaneously.”

Some are surprised Benedict has published a book on this issue. According to the pope emeritus' secretary, he is in no condition to give speeches on complex topics, despite being coherent.

The publishers say the authors present themselves as two bishops in filial obedience to Pope Francis. They say they are in search of the truth in a spirit of love for the unity of the Church, and not for an ideology that divides.

They do not criticize Pope Francis, as he has not yet spoken on the issue. However, the pope would be in a difficult position if he were to exempt some clergy in the Amazon from the rule of celibacy.

Until now, this is all Pope Francis has said.

Jan. 27, 2019
“A phrase by St. Paul VI comes to mind: 'I prefer to give my life before changing the law on celibacy.' There would be some possibility (to change it) only for remote places, like the Pacific Islands. It is something that must be considered when there is a pastoral need. The pastor must think of his faithful ones.”

Pope Francis plans on publishing a document in the coming months on the proposals made during the synod. His decision on celibacy will probably be made known then.


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