America’s Vatican correspondent explains Benedict’s book controversy

Pope Francis visits his predecessor, retired Pope Benedict XVI, at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery at the Vatican in this Dec. 21, 2018, file photo. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

This week on “Inside the Vatican,” America’s Rome correspondent Gerard O’Connell and I dedicate the entire episode to the questions surrounding the new book From the Depths of Our Hearts, written by Cardinal Robert Sarah with a contribution from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The book argues against the ordination of married men as priests, a subject that Pope Francis is currently considering as he prepares his final document following up on the Vatican’s Synod on the Amazon. In October, the synod bishops recommended ordaining mature, married permanent deacons as priests to serve in their remote indigenous communities.

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Gerry and I explain why the book’s subject matter prompted questions. Then, we unpack the debate about the book’s authorship that swept social media on Monday and Tuesday. After the book was announced as being co-authored by Pope Emeritus Benedict and Cardinal Sarah, a source or sources close to Benedict told members of the press that the pope emeritus had not agreed to co-author the book. This led to a back-and-forth between Cardinal Sarah, Archbishop Georg Gänswein—Benedict’s personal secretary—and the book’s publishers over how the pope emeritus should be credited and whether or not his photo should appear on the front of the book.

Gerry and I unpack what each party has said and how this controversy exposes a lingering theological question—namely, what is the role of the pope emeritus?

Links from the show:

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