In a new book coauthored by Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah, the two defend clerical celibacy and speak against the ordination of married men.
Entitled Des profondeurs de nos cœurs, “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” the book is set to come out later this week on Wednesday, January 15th. Its release comes before Pope Francis’s releases his post-synodal exhortation on the Amazon synod, the final document of which calls for ordaining married men and making exceptions for clerical celibacy.
According to excerpts from the book published by French newspaper Le Figaro, Pope Benedict XVI claims clerical celibacy, while a “painful” step, is integral to the priesthood and carries “great significance.”
“Celibacy is indispensable. The ability to renounce marriage in order to place oneself fully at the disposal of the Lord has become a criterion for priestly ministry. It doesn’t seem possible to realize both vocations – priesthood and marriage – simultaneously.”
Cardinal Sarah directly addresses Pope Francis in the book, pleading with him to recognize the dangers of interfering with the Church’s tradition on clerical celibacy. He said exceptions to the tradition would be “a lie” setting a dangerous precedent.
“I am humbly pleading for Pope Francis to protect us definitively of such an eventuality by putting his veto to any weakening or lessening of priestly celibacy, even limited to one region or the other. The possibility to ordain married men would represent a pastoral catastrophe, an ecclesiastical confusion and an obfuscation in an understanding of the priesthood.”
A joint passage by the two says they took note of the “uproar” surrounding the Amazon synod, and could not remain silent.
“If ideology divides, truth unites hearts. Examining the doctrine of salvation can only unite the Church around its divine Master. We do it in a spirit of charity. To be with God is to set aside what is only the self. We cannot offer them ‘second class’ priests. The similarity of our concerns and the convergence of our conclusions made us place the fruit of our work and our spiritual friendship at the disposal of all the faithful, following the example of Saint Augustine. Indeed, like him we can affirm: ‘Silere non possum! I cannot keep silent.'”
Read below an extended excerpt from the upcoming book:
“Nowadays, it is too easily asserted that celibacy would only be the consequence of a contempt for corporeality and sexuality: Such a judgment is wrong.
Without renouncing material goods, there can be no priesthood. The call to follow Jesus is not possible without this sign of freedom and without renouncing all compromises. Celibacy has a great significance as renouncing an earthly family life.
Priestly celibacy rightly understood is a liberation, although at times it is a trial. It allows the priest to establish himself in all coherence in his identity as bridegroom of the Church.
The ordination of married men, even if they were permanent deacons, is not an exception, but a breach, a wound in the coherence of the priesthood. To speak of an exception would be an abuse of language or a lie.
It is urgent and necessary, that all – bishops, priests and laity – no longer allow themselves to be impressed by bad arguments, staged theatre, diabolical lies, and fashionable errors that want to devalue priestly celibacy.
The possibility of ordaining married men would represent a pastoral catastrophe, an ecclesiological confusion and an obscuring of the understanding of the priesthood.”