The Book Debacle

How extraordinary that something as simple as the publication of a book backing a Catholic position has caused such extraordinary controversy this week!

The launch of the joint project between Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah left papolatrous "Team Francis" figures writhing in paroxysms of fury at the "intervention" which undermined Pope Francis. My first thoughts were to wonder how a book presenting a theological, academic argument for a position long held in the Church and which the Pope is presented as supporting was undermining anyone?

More detail on what has happened here from Edward Pentin.

Antonio Socci has an account of what went on behind the scenes. Apparently, when the quotes defending celibacy were published, pandemonium broke out in the Vatican as Pope Francis exploded rage. Despite his constant pronouncements in support of priestly celibacy, it is obvious from the agenda of the loaded Amazon Synod, Pope Francis intends to introduce married priests. Socci argues that this authoritative pronouncement by Pope Benedict XVI effectively stops Pope Francis from tearing apart ecclesiastic celibacy, which, Socci claims, he had intended to do in the upcoming Post-Synod Exhortation. It was because of this that Pope Francis then personally summoned Monsignor Gaenswein, Benedict’s secretary, but also Prefect of Bergoglio’s Papal Household and, furious, ordered him to have Benedict XVI’s name removed from the cover of the book (being unable to demand the changing of the texts therein).

Socci claims that Pope Francis demanded a full and total disclaimer this is why the first filtered report out of the Vatican spoke of sources “close to Benedict XVI” who said Benedict had not written the book with Cardinal Sarah, nor had he approved the cover (that is, his signature on the volume). In response, Cardinal Sarah immediately made the letters exchanged between them public, which showed the book had been decided upon by both of them, and Socci considers it a definite that this was done with Pope Benedict XVI’s permission in order to re-establish the truth.
The fundamental question remains however: 

If Pope Francis – in his Exhortation -- hits out at celibacy (by allowing the ordination of “viri probati”), he will now place himself de facto in direct contrast with the doctrine of the Church, reaffirmed in recent days by Pope Benedict XVI. Thus, he becomes responsible for a very grave rift, fraught with consequences. Alternatively we might see a situation where any progressive innovation is pushed, the mob will demand the Pope sees it through to avoid being seen as weak and subservient to his predecessor.

I think Steve Skojek gives a calm, lucid account in this video. He also connects some important dots: especially the continuity between the two papacies which many of us struggle to understand in that Pope Benedict XVI has not said anything against Pope Francis novelties and consistantly talks of continuity and fidelity to the Argentine Pontiff. Steve also alludes to the fact that no one is coming to save us (sadly), not Cardinal Sarah, not Pope Benedict XVI, not Cardinal Burke. No one.

He notes that there's not some amazing game of political chess going on, it's all just a big old mess, and that strikes me as true about much of the Church today as we abandon ageless definitions and embrace "progressive" new ideas. Who could imagine Cardinal's tweeting about defamation a few short years ago?

I especially liked his insightful comment about the German situation: Germans want married priests as a solution to their lack of vocations which exists because no one wants to join an organisation which doesn't believe in anything. It's like a chicken and egg scenario that bishops appear completely blind to.

Well worth investing your time to watch this if you want to understand the situation better:


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