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Former Pope Benedict wants name removed from controversial book: aide

Monitoring desk
VATICAN CITY
Former Pope Benedict wants his name removed as co-author of a controversial book on the issue of priestly celibacy, his personal secretary said on Tuesday.
Archbishop Georg Ganswein told Reuters that, at the former pope’s behest, he had asked the principal author of the book, Cardinal Robert Sarah, to ask the publishers to remove Benedict’s name from the cover, the introduction and the conclusion.
Some Roman Catholic scholars had rebuked the former pope for his comments in the book, saying his words risked destabilizing the reigning Pope Francis.
Cardinal Sarah, who heads the Vatican’s liturgy office, spoke out after news reports quoting “sources close to Benedict” claimed the retired pope never saw or approved the finished product.
Sarah reproduced letters from Benedict making clear the 92-year-old pope had written the text and approved publishing it.
The controversy underscores the conservative-progressive battle lines that have exploded in the Catholic Church following Benedict’s 2013 decision to retire, and his successor Pope Francis’ more reform-minded papacy.
Benedict’s intervention in the book, “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” had the appearance of being an attempt to interfere with Pope Francis’ ministry. Francis has said he will publish a document in the coming weeks that is expected to touch on whether married men could be ordained priests in the Amazon, to deal with a priest shortage there.
Benedict’s reaffirmation of the “necessity” of priestly celibacy in the book gave the impression that the former pope was trying to influence the thinking of the current one.
His intervention was also surprising, given he had vowed to live “hidden from the world” when he retired in 2013, specifically to avoid any suggestion that he still wielded papal authority.
Catholic Twitter accounts, amplifying the rift between right and left, were buzzing about the implications of Benedict’s intervention.
Francis’ supporters claimed Benedict had been manipulated by members of his right-wing entourage into writing something that amounted to a frontal attack on Francis. Some claimed it was evidence of elder abuse, given Benedict’s 92 years and increasing frailty.
Conservatives, many of whom long for Benedict’s orthodoxy, claimed it was no such thing and noted that Francis too has reaffirmed the gift of priestly celibacy.
The Vatican tried to tamp down the whole furor by insisting the book was a mere “contribution” to the discussion about priestly celibacy written by two bishops in “filial obedience” to Francis.
Sarah denied there was any manipulation on his part and said Benedict was very much a part of the process.
He tweeted three 2018 letters from Benedict making clear the retired pope had provided him the text.



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