Papal clash: Benedict accused of ‘interfering’ with a synodal process

Papal clash: Benedict accused of ‘interfering’ with a synodal process January 13, 2020

DOMINATING religious and secular media outlets today is the ‘shocking’ news that Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has co-authored a book in which he insists that priestly celibacy must be retained by the Catholic Church.

Book image courtesy of Ignatius Press

Joshua J McElwee, writing for the National Catholic Reporter, says of the book – From the Depths of Our Hearts (Des profondeurs de nos cœurs):

Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.

According to excerpts from the volume, written in conjunction with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating allowing priests to marry, a move requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at last October’s controversial Vatican synod gathering which outraged conservative Catholics – and was marked by an act of vandalism.

McElwee said that one noted theologian – Massimo Faggioli, a historian and theologian at Villanova University – called Benedict’s decision to write on the issue a “serious breach.”

It interferes with a synodal process that is still unfolding after the Amazon synod … and threatens to limit the freedom of the one Pope.

A Catholic World report points out that Ratzinger and Sarah insist that priestly celibacy is more than “a mere precept of ecclesiastical law”, and argue that a renewal of priestly celibacy is necessary for a renewal of a Church rocked by scandals.

According to a press release from the publisher, Ignatius Press:

The priesthood is going through a dark time. Wounded by the revelation of so many scandals, disconcerted by the constant questioning of their consecrated celibacy, many priests are tempted by the thought of giving up and abandoning everything.

Meanwhile the BBC reports that Pope Benedict says celibacy, a centuries-old tradition within the Church, has “great significance” because it allows priests to focus on their duties.

The 92-year-old says:

It doesn’t seem possible to realise both vocations [priesthood and marriage] simultaneously.

The BBC says it is rare for Pope Benedict, who was the first pontiff to resign in almost 600 years, to intervene in clerical matters.

The National Catholic Register points out that critics see the married priest proposal, extensively discussed at the synod and passed by just over two-thirds of the synod fathers:

As a step to weakening mandatory priestly celibacy in the Latin Church worldwide.

Quoting St Augustine of Hippo, Benedict and Cardinal Sarah state firmly: “Silere non possum!” (I cannot keep silent). And they call on bishops, priests and laity to cease being:

Impressed by poor arguments, theatrics, diabolical lies, and fashionable errors that want to devalue priestly celibacy.

According to a January 13 exclusive by Le Figaro’s Rome correspondent Jean-Marie Guènois, who has seen an advance copy of the book, Benedict draws on Christianity’s Jewish roots, dismisses Martin Luther’s theses in favor of married clergy and shows that priesthood and celibacy are part of the “new covenant” instituted by Christ in which “total oblation is the model.”

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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  • Michael Neville

    a renewal of priestly celibacy is necessary for a renewal of a Church rocked by scandals.

    How about instead of insisting on priestly celibacy enforcing it, to include not raping children?

  • Milo C

    It doesn’t seem possible to realise both vocations [priesthood and marriage] simultaneously.

    Sure, it works for many other religions and it is something Catholics did once, but it’s outside our experience so we deeply doubt it’s even possible and should be avoided and maybe it’s evil, too. Can’t be too careful.

  • Rann

    I think Ratzinger would consider that a “fashionable error”……..

  • Tawreos

    Is there anyone that believed that Darth Benedict wouldn’t interfere with the current pope?

  • Lonborghini Funghini

    By all means, give up and abandon the church and religion. Make the world a better place.

  • Raging Bee

    Two things: first, this pretty much disproves any notion that Pope Palpadict had to step down for health or stamina reasons; and second, he’s making his comeback now because there’s a growing anti-progressive reactionary movement within the Church looking for a leader/figurehead.

  • Old Harry

    “Dispose of them all and allow Heaven to make the Judgement.” is, I believe, a Catholic-accepted alternative for ending this dispute?

  • Raging Bee

    Dunno…sounds kinda Protestant…

  • Broga

    has “great significance” because it allows priests to focus on their duties.””

    As anyone with a sex drive knows celibacy has the opposite effect. Benedict has created a fictional world which is there to suggest RC priests are so special they can deflect their energies to the church. The reality is that they relieve their sex needs in secret and prey on young children – boys and girls – and have adult sexual partners by varies subterfuges.

  • barriejohn

    What happens when you have two popes alive at the same time, both claiming “infallibility” and each with a different message? “God is not the author of confusion”!

  • barriejohn

    Celibacy is “a gift from God”,

    I urge all who can to watch the following (second episode tomorrow night at 21:00). Truly shocking, though many of the facts have been highlighted on this site.

  • Raging Bee

    That’s happened before. Once the Church even had THREE popes at once.

  • Jim Jones

    OK. You get the kiddie pool, I’ll get the jello and they can rassle it out.

    Pope Wars!

  • Jim Jones

    > Celibacy is “a gift from God”.

    Maybe they can give it back?

  • Raging Bee

    This isn’t really about the importance of priestly celibacy. This is about pushing back against progressive change; and of all the Church policies progressives are trying to improve or change, priestly celibacy is the least ridiculous and least objectionable. Seriously, what other longstanding policy can they bravely defend without looking like uncaring pond-scum? Clericalism? Refusing to abide by secular law WRT child-sex-abuse? Opposition to women’s basic human rights? Sh1tty s3x-ed and entrenched willful s3xual ignorance?

    Also, if the Palpadictine reactionaries make the fight about priestly celibacy, then they can portray the progressives as selfish libertines who only care about relaxing Church rules so they can get laid. And once that stereotype is drilled into the flock’s minds, it’ll degrade their ability to listen to progressives when we talk about all their other problems.

  • ephemerol

    It was originally entitled, Let’s Double-Down on What’s Not Been Working and Hope for Different Results, but they realized that was too long to fit on the cover…

  • Matt G

    Maybe a schism is in order.

  • Matt G

    What are these “diabolical lies”? Something tells me they are matters of opinion, not fact.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Sadly, the video is only available in UK.

  • barriejohn

    BBC iPlayer can be viewed via a VPN. There is normally a small charge, and my niece, who lives in France, subscribes to such a service!

  • barriejohn

    Funny, though, that they don’t just pray about the matter and leave it to God to sort out!

  • Tawreos

    They never do when it is something that they care about.

  • overgrownhobbit

    I would like to remind everyone that priestly celibacy came about because medieval priests and bishops were passing down their positions to their sons and THE CHURCH COULDN’T DO A DAMN THING ABOUT IT.

    So after this, the requirement for priestly celibacy was introduced. And only barely enforced above the level of monsignor. Bishops, Cardinals, and Popes would go on to father children and suffer no consequences.

    But please tell us about how married priests are going to be even worse than child-molesting ones dear Johannes.

  • barriejohn

    Well, what do you know? Pope Benedict’s name is to be removed as co-author of the book!

  • Broga

    Thanks. I have recorded them and will watch at week-end.

    Any comments from Archbishop Welby who was recently on Thought for the Day about how community could play a big part etc……..

    Or the Queen who is the head of the C. of E. ? Did she consult the Archbishop on her in- house problems?

  • HematitePersuasion

    I don’t feel qualified to pass judgment on Catholic theology. It is an abstract argument over communal mythology — and I am emphatically not part of that community.

    I will admit to a certain vicarious amusement watching grown men (no, no women, just men) argue so vehemently about their imaginary friends.

  • Ignorant Amos

    The CoE aren’t required to be celibate though.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Have you seen the movie “The Two Popes” yet?

    It’s good show.

  • barriejohn

    Peter Ball was a monk – so fecking holy that he founded his own order!

  • Ignorant Amos

    I must watch that show on catch up.

  • (((Hornèd Pontilibratificus)))

    Ratzinger and Sarah insist that priestly celibacy is more than “a mere precept of ecclesiastical law”, and argue that a renewal of priestly celibacy is necessary for a renewal of a Church rocked by scandals.

    Yeah, ’cause after 2000 years of getting it wrong, today’s nebulous lip-service call for “renewal” of a vow they’ve already taken will finally do the trick.

    Besides, it’s fantastically obvious that allowing priests to marry wouldn’t even make a dent in the problem. For proof of this, we need look no further than the fact that married clergy of other denominations are raping children, too!

  • Connie Beane

    This whole thing isn’t really about celibacy or not-celibacy, it’s about the fact that the RC is having trouble recruiting enough white men for the priesthood. The only place the church is growing is in the non-European areas of the world–Asia, Africa, South America. In another generation or two, the financial control of the RC’s vast resources will inevitably pass into the hands of men who emerged from poverty and destitution and see it as their role to care for the poor as much as to spread the gospel. They are not as invested in maintaining the church’s cultural and ethnic elitism, and could decide to start spending (and liquidating) its enormous resources to benefit the masses.

    The supposedly progressive wing of the church that engineered Ratzinger’s resignation is attempting to stave off this “darkening” of the priesthood by opening it up to non-celibates, many of whom will undoubtedly be of European descent. They didn’t necessarily disagree with Ratzinger’s conservative aims–to preserve the church and thereby their own vast power and influence–but they understood (as he apparently did not) that his stance on celibacy was a major stumbling block to recovering and maintaining a white-majority, Eurocentric priesthood.

  • Syzygy

    You can’t keep a good Nazi down.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Oh, I suspected that as soon as they have the keys to the cash drawer they will discover all sorts of reasons to continue in the current path.

  • Connie Beane

    Maybe. But the current ruling junta is undoubtedly having spasms at the thought that they won’t. Or that they will distribute the largess to their own associates instead.

  • David Cromie

    Ratzinger; “It doesn’t seem possible to realise both vocations [priesthood and marriage] simultaneously”. However, it is possible to envisage priesthood and paedophilia simultaneously, whilst striving to hide it from the world, of course.

  • Bricabrac

    Unfortunately, they don’t have a receipt, so they can’t return it…

  • s clark

    I’m not surprised they say “it interferes with a synodal process” as they have always been interfering roamin catholics