Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, have co-authored a book on priestly celibacy.
The release of “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” will be published on Jan. 15 by Fayard in French. Being published in English by Ignatius Press, the book is already available for pre-order, and ships on Feb. 20.
According to a press release from Ignatius, the book takes a serious look at the crisis in the Catholic Church and focuses on the problems with priestly ministry.
“The priesthood is going through a dark time,” writes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, along with his co-author, Cardinal Robert Sarah. “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.”
Responding to calls for adjusting the nature of the priesthood, including by some during the recent regional Synod on the Amazon, held in the Vatican during October of 2019, the two theologians explain the biblical and spiritual role of the priesthood, celibacy and genuine priestly ministry.
Drawing on Vatican II, they present priestly celibacy as more than “a mere precept of ecclesiastical law.” Renewal of the Church, they stress, requires a renewed understanding of priestly vocation as sharing in Jesus’ priestly identity as Bridegroom of the Church.
According to the release, they affirm that optional celibacy for priests is not actually optional for an authentic priesthood.
Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah give their brother priests and the entire Church a message of hope, as they address the spiritual challenges faced by priests today, including struggles of celibacy.
A deeper conversion to Jesus Christ, they say, is the key to faithful and fruitful priestly ministry and church reform.
This book is intended not just for clergy and laity, but also to work toward renewing and restoring a hurting Church.
“Their book,” Father Joseph Fessio says, “is not just about priestly celibacy, important as that is in itself.” “It is about,” continues the founder and editor of Ignatius Press, “as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI describes it in his first paragraph: ‘the lasting crisis that the priesthood has been going through for many years.’”
“But it is about more than that; it is about the nature of the Church and of Christian discipleship. This is a book that all should read. It is powerful and personal — from the depths of their hearts,” he concludes.