The former pope wants his name removed from a controversial book about priestly celibacy, an aide has said.
Benedict XVI, who retired from the role in 2013, is currently listed as a co-author of From The Depths Of Our Hearts – a book which argues that celibacy is a necessity for priests.
Excerpts from the book, released over the weekend, angered some scholars in the Catholic community who believe Benedict risks undermining his successor Pope Francis.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the principal author of the book, has been asked to contact the publisher so the 92-year-old’s name can be removed.
Hours earlier, Cardinal Sarah denied allegations that he had used the former pontiff’s name without permission, tweeting: I solemnly affirm that Benedict XVI knew that our project would take the form of a book. I can say that we exchanged several texts to establish the corrections.
The cardinal described accusations that he was manipulating Benedict as despicable – adding that his allegiance to Pope Francis was total.
News reports citing sources close to Benedict claim he never saw or approved the book, but Cardinal Sarah has reproduced letters which appear to show he wrote the text and was in favour of its publication.
One signed letter, which the former pope wrote in Italian, says: For my part the text can be published in the form you have foreseen.
Cardinal Sarah has confirmed that Benedict will be named as a contributor rather than a co-author in future editions of the book, adding: However, the full text remains absolutely unchanged.
In the coming weeks, Pope Francis is expected to publish a document that could discuss whether married men can be ordained priests in the Amazon, where a shortage means some Catholics wait months for their next mass.
The exceptions could apply to older men who are already deacons in the church, have a stable family life and have shown leadership in their communities.
From The Depths Of Our Hearts has been regarded by some as an intervention in that debate, taking some Catholics by surprise given how Benedict had vowed to live hidden from the world.
The book states that relaxing these rules would be a serious breach of Vatican protocol – adding it doesn’t seem possible to realise priesthood and marriage simultaneously as they require conflicting surrenders to either God or their family.
It is not the first time Benedict has broken his public vow to keep silent on church matters, made when he became the first pontiff in 700 years to resign.
He caused a stir last year by writing an essay for a German newspaper where he blamed the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal on the effects of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, homosexual cliques in seminaries, and what he called a general collapse in morality.
(c) Sky News 2020: Former pope wants his name taken off controversial book about celibacy