Pope Benedict Eschews Co-Authorship; Ignatius Says “No!”

Pope Benedict Eschews Co-Authorship; Ignatius Says “No!” January 14, 2020
This is the sad age we live in, folks, where a major Catholic publisher (indeed, the primary one for Pope Benedict’s books, before and after becoming a pope), expressly ignores his stated wishes for one of their books in which he wrote part of the text.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein, stated today:
I can confirm that this morning I acted on instructions from the emeritus pope and I asked Cardinal Robert Sarah to contact the book’s publishers and request them to remove Benedict XVI’s name as co-author of the book and remove his signature from the introduction and the conclusions too.
The pope emeritus knew that the cardinal was preparing a book and he sen[t] him a test on the priesthood authorizing him to use it as he wanted.
But he did not approve a project for a co-authored book and he had not seen or authorized the cover.
It is a misunderstanding that does not raise questions about Cardinal Sarah’s good faith.
The former pope and Cardinal Sarah are clearly talking past each other and saying two different things that ultimately (as far as I can make out) don’t contradict. But that, of course, is a far too subtle and incomprehensible logical distinction for both “conservative” Catholic and secular media to grasp, and so now this is (as always) a big brouhaha, which will cause Catholics to yet again become a laughingstock for the millionth time in recent years. I am on the side of the German Shepherd, as always. But there should be no need for there to even be two sides.
The pope emeritus expressed his wishes, and that is sufficient to end the discussion (since it was about a book he contributed to). He ought to be treated charitably, at least as much as any other person should be (all the more so as a former pope and theologian of extraordinary eminence). This incident is a disgrace. Catholic publishing has reached another nadir.
Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, released a statement today (within the last three hours):
Given that, according to Benedict XVI’s correspondence and Cardinal Sarah’s statement, the two men collaborated on this book for several months, that none of the essays have appeared elsewhere, and that a joint work as defined by the Chicago Manual of Style is ‘a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contribution be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole,’ Ignatius Press considers this a coauthored publication.
Mark weighed in further on his public Facebook page:

Can’t weigh in much right now. My understanding is the Cardinal Sarah got B’s approval of content and a version—probably the French—of the cover. See also Card S’s chronology. Whatever non-authorial factors may be involved, and whatever other reasons there maybe for changing the authorial attribution, the content of the work as we received it, and even taking B’s name off the intro and conclusion, is clearly a collaboration that is in fact a coauthored work.

That’s all for now. Back to other work. (1-14-20, 2:01 PM ET)

I replied (maverick and troublemaker that I supposedly am):
Why is the Pope Emeritus’ expressed desire not good enough for Ignatius Press? Why must it be an issue at all? Why is this a hill you want to die on?
No reply thus far, as of an hour later. If there ever is a reply, I’ll post it here. If it’s not here, then no reply was made. If my comment is removed, I’ll also note that here.
[writing now 5 1/2 hours later] It looks like I will get no answer to my questions to Mark Brumley.  Claire Navarro Domingues asked similar but more specific questions on the same page:
I have a question… did Ignatius Press ever consult or talk — as a direct party not as a third party nor even as fourth party — with Benedict XVI about his co-authorship? Was there any sort of document proving that? Was there ever a documented signature / authorization from Benedict XVI himself confirming that he is co-author with the attachment of the final book draft cover prior publishing?
Brumley “responded” to these as follows:
Sorry but I’m not holding a press conference here. When it is appropriate to respond we will, in the appropriate venue. . . . I’m not going to reply to every significant or insignificant Facebook question. I hope you understand. Thanks.
Claire replied:
Sure, Mark Brumley. If these were not in place then there was no authorization as there was no consent. If he asked Ignatius Press to remove it then his wish must be respected and it must be removed. Citing the Chicago Manual of Style and emails correspondence do not prove authorization nor consent even by compliance standards.
And Mark replied again:

I respectfully suggest you are uninformed of all the pertinent facts. I’m not getting into a back and forth with you here. This is my one comment.

IP has only said, based on what we know, that the work was coauthored. No one involved in this project has told us anything that contradicts that statement, regardless of what media accounts suggest. We have not been asked to remove Benedict’s name from the cover. I can only call your attention to the words of the press release and Cardinal Sarah’s comments and the fact that the *text* is to remain the same, the text which includes the introduction and conclusion written in the first person plural and read and approved by Benedict XVI. Even the phrase “with the contribution of Benedict XVI” on the cover doesn’t amount to removing his name from the cover. Nor does it change the *fact* of co-authorship of three of the four authorial sections of the book. Only the chapter by Sarah is written as by him alone. The rest is, in the text that is supposed to *remain unchanged*, either by Benedict himself or approved by Benedict and written as from both Benedict and Sarah. And even if the dual name signatures are dropped from the end of the intro and conclusion, and are replaced with “composed by Cardinal Sarah, and read and approved by Benedict XVI,” that changes relatively little because these sections “read and approved by Benedict XVI” are written, as I said, as being from both Benedict and Sarah.

That qualifies the work to be described as co-authored, which is what the press release said, whatever else may be involved with how the collaboration may be represented on the cover.

Claire responded:

Thanks, Mark.

All I can say is: At the end of the day, Benedict XVI requested (through his official spokesperson, Ganswein, who said it below) that his name as co-author of the book be removed. His request must be respected and honoured.

I think it’s clear that Pope Benedict wished to remove himself from the trumped-up / much ado about nothing media controversy which was seeking to make him look like an opponent of Pope Francis, which he is not. And the motive of all that (as usual) to is clearly to undermine and denigrate Pope Francis. But now it won’t matter and won’t work, because the media is what it is, and sense and facts won’t be allowed to predominate. But Pope Benedict wants no part of that; hence his request. I don’t think it’s rocket science.
My beef is with Ignatius Press “thumbing its nose” at the pope emeritus’ wishes. I asked its president directly, why they wish to do this. We’ll see if an answer is provided. It’s certainly a fair and relevant question. And I will certainly become very unpopular in some circles for asking it. That never stops me, when a question needs to be asked and answered, and when serious discussion is necessary. Bring it on.
In later developments on 1-14-20, JD Flynn at Catholic Herald reported:

Later on January 14, Sarah tweeted that, while he stood by his version of events, he had requested that Fayard, the book’s French publisher, acquiesce to Gänswein’s request. The cardinal has insisted that “the complete text will remain absolutely unchanged.”

A spokesperson for Ignatius Press told CNA on January 14 that while the publisher is “aware” of Gänswein’s request, it stands by its statement, and considers the text a co-authored work. . . .

The spokesperson told CNA that Ignatius “can’t speak to what Ignatius might do if Fayard acquiesces,” and that it will address that question if it becomes necessary. [ah, a little loophole, for Ignatius to possibly change its policy and save face]

Here is that tweet, in its original French, and Google translation:
Considérant les polémiques qu’a provoqué la parution de l’ouvrage Des profondeurs de nos cœurs, il est décidé que l’auteur du livre sera pour les publications à venir : Card Sarah, avec la contribution de Benoît XVI. En revanche, le texte complet demeure absolument inchangé. +RS
Considering the controversies that provoked the publication of the book From the Depths of Our Hearts, it is decided that the author of the book will be for future publications: Card Sarah, with the contribution of Benedict XVI. However, the full text remains absolutely unchanged. RS +

If cost of already printed books is an issue, how about if the Vatican picks up that tab? Would that make a difference?

So we’ll see what Ignatius does, now that the Cardinal at least shows the usual respect that ought to be accorded to a former pope, but now is widely not even granted to popes. Ignatius would then have to go against the wishes of both contributors (or “co-authors”: as the case may be), if they persist. But if they agree to change the cover, then the interesting question would be: why was the former pope‘s request not good enough, whereas a Cardinal’s request was sufficient? That would be an odd conception of the Catholic hierarchy, wouldn’t it?

Both “sides” are talking past each other and saying different, but not contradictory things. Cardinal Sarah is saying that Pope Benedict XVI contributed to the book (which of course he did). Pope Benedict XVI is saying that he doesn’t wish to be listed as co-author on the cover (which of course he doesn’t).

Much ado about nothing . . .

I think one can also draw a valid distinction between:

1) being a “co-author” in some sense, or to some degree.


2) [due to worthless media pseudo-controversies] not wishing to be listed as such on the cover.

One Mark LaVergne also chimed in on Mark Brumley’s Facebook page and we had this little exchange:
Mark LaVergne: Hang tight on this. Continue to keep putting out the facts, as you have. That’s your best defense. Ignatius Press has been a genuine Godsend — keep at it!! Don’t cave.
Me: Accepting a request from a former pope whose books your company has had the rights to is “caving”? What a strange world we live in.
Mark LaVergne: We don’t have all the facts and we await further clarification. Making a premature decision without complete clarification — a “rush to judgement” — would definitely be “caving,” under the current circumstances. Does that help?

Me: We know that it is a fact that he doesn’t want to be listed as co-author. Or is that under dispute, too? And we know that, thus far, Ignatius has deemed a direct request from a former pope to not be sufficiently “weighty” to decide to change its policy.

Sorry, I find that to be exceedingly strange and (if I dare say so) “un-Catholic” behavior, and hardly the stuff that ought to be lauded and cheered on as a “Godsend.”

There are plenty of stories to be told about how publishers treat their authors, but this one surely takes the cake.

My friend Patti Sheffield also gave her $00.02 cents’ worth, and I replied:

I really think many who are weighing in on this are short of all the facts. We simply do not know what we do not know.
Do you say it’s not known that Pope Benedict wishes to not be named as co-author on the cover? If it’s not known, why did Cardinal Sarah agree that future copies would name only him as author?
I also had this pathetic exchange with the former host of Catholic Answers Live, Patrick Coffin (now firmly in the radical reactionary camp:
PC: Jokes aside, I was depressed and disappointed to read that Pope Emeritus’s name is being dropped from the book. No one disbelieves Card. Sarah, everyone (except Mark Shea, Massimo what’s his name, James Martin SJ, and little Austen Ivereigh) disbelieves Archbishop Ganswein.
Me: I don’t disbelieve either one. There is no need to, because they are saying two different things that don’t contradict (excepting perhaps the conflicting reports on the short intro and outro sections).
PC: Sure, Dave. Cardinal Sarah is a bit slow to not realize he was gravely offended and forgave the controversialists — for no reason. Thanks!

Me: Pope Benedict did not deny that he contributed; only that he agreed to be co-author. I don’t believe (could be wrong) that Cardinal Sarah ever mentioned the word “co-author” in his comments or the letters he released. If he did, you can produce it and I will stand corrected.

As I said, they are talking past each other. Your position amounts to either calling Pope Benedict a bald-faced liar, or calling his spokesman that: which is scarcely less extraordinary. If his spokesman is putting out information that is flat-out lies, in conveying his opinions, then Pope Benedict would certainly correct the record (or is he now considered too senile or too much of a stooge and pawn to do that? — anything goes, these days).

It’s amazing that Catholics have sunk this low, that we even have to have this conversation. We don’t have to call ANYONE a liar or two-faced. It was a misunderstanding, as Pope Benedict conveyed. Cardinal Sarah has backed down a bit, and agrees that Pope Benedict should not be listed as co-author. He shows the proper reverence towards a former pope, whereas Ignatius Press (amazingly) finds this too difficult to do.

So now we have Pope Benedict’s major publisher not giving a damn about his own desires, and dozens of folks here (many of whom I consider friends and colleagues) cheering this on as if it is a magnificent stand for principle. It’s a disgrace and an outrage.

It doesn’t surprise me at all, because I’ve noted for years now that the current fashionable anti-papalism extends to Pope Benedict, sometimes even to Pope St. John Paul II, and (as in Taylor Marshall’s book) also back to Pope St. Paul VI (whom he strongly implied was in an active homosexual relationship with an Italian actor and classified as a modernist radical) and Pope St. John XXIII: because they presided over the dreaded Vatican II.

I defended Pope St. John Paul II 20 years ago when he was being trashed up and down; I defended Pope Benedict XVI when people like Bob Sungenis slandered him, and when Michael Voris claimed that he exaggerated his illness to resign, and immorally forsook his flock, and when Peter Kwasniewski contended that Summorum Pontificum and the liturgical reform of the reform were crocks.

And I defend him now, and also Pope Francis, who has been subject to a mountain of calumny: most recently, that he is a rank idolater, supposedly an enemy of the Blessed Virgin Mary and orthodox Mariology, and priestly celibacy: all ridiculous lies.

This anti-papalism is simply Protestantism Lite or dissident Catholic ecclesiological liberalism.

PC: Weirdly long reply dude. Seriously. I believe Mark Brumley’s account, and know well that Father Fessio is not prone to lying about authorial rights, I’m happy the other legitimate author’s name is on it going forward, and I hope it crushes the 2020 sales lists.

Me: Right; the “too long” retort (YAWN). I highly doubt that you would say this if someone wrote a comment as long as mine that you agreed with. This is pretty much all that is left when one has no reply (apart from outright ignoring). If you had any substance that would make up a counter-reply, surely you would provide it.

Canon lawyer and author Pete Vere offered the following insights on this controversy, on my Facebook page: with which I totally agree:

I feel really bad for Cardinal Sarah. I think, through no fault of his own, he was left the scapegoat for the rebellion of the Never Francis crowd. That is, he was left looking like a liar among many who did not go into the fine details.

Put another way, he collaborated with Pope Benedict in some capacity leaving the question of co-author or collaborator somewhat ambiguous. The intention of both in doing so was to serve Pope Francis and the Church, and to contribute to the dialogue between learned theologians.

The Never Francis crowd caught wind of the collaboration and spun it into a fantasy of Pope Benedict & Cardinal Sarah tag-teaming against Pope Francis.

Pope Benedict immediately moved to support Pope Francis and nip this false narrative in the bud. In doing so, he denied being a coauthor and asked that his name be removed from the project so as not to give any appearance of undermining Pope Francis (something that has been consistently high as a priority for him since Pope Francis’s election).

People then accused of Cardinal Sarah of lying or embellishing. . . . And I am sure the various publishers are also going crazy because of the financial repercussions of pulping thousands of newly printed books after investing so much money into their publication.

In short, despite his past warnings to the Never Francis crowd that he fully supports the Holy Father, this incident has seen Cardinal Sarah pay for the sins of the Never Francis crowd.

Related Reading:


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