Faced with the local lack of priests in the Amazon able to give sacraments, a synod suggested to ordain priests of married middle-aged men (called “viri probati”), preferably indigenous. François must make a decision on this very sensitive issue in the coming weeks.
Benoit, 92, who left office in 2013, spoke in a book written with ultra-conservative cardinal Robert Sarah, extracts of which were published exclusively on Sunday by the French daily Le Figaro.
“The similarity of our concerns and the convergence of our conclusions decided us to put the fruit of our work and our spiritual friendship at the disposal of all the faithful like St. Augustine. Indeed, like him we can say: “Silere non possum! I cannot be silent! Write the two clergymen.
“It is urgent, necessary, that all, bishops, priests and laity, find a look of faith on the Church and on priestly celibacy which protects its mystery”, they affirm.
They ask the whole Church not to be “impressed” by “bad pleas, theatrical productions, devilish lies, fashionable errors that want to devalue priestly celibacy”.
“The conjugal state concerns the whole of man, and since the service of the Lord also requires the total gift of man, it does not seem possible to realize both vocations simultaneously.
Thus, the ability to renounce marriage in order to make oneself completely available to the Lord has become a criterion for priestly ministry, “writes Benedict.
For Guinean cardinal Sarah, “priestly celibacy, if understood at times, is a liberation. It allows the priest to establish himself in all consistency in his identity as spouse of the Church. “
Benedict, the first sovereign pontiff to resign in almost six centuries, first forced himself to a life of contemplation and calm but then expressed himself more and more openly on the key issues of the Catholic Church.