A War in the Vatican?

Controversy about a book from Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah

After the peaceful celebration of the mysteries of the birth of Our Lord, a bombshell exploded in Rome on January 13, 2020. This was with the announcement of the publication of a book, co-authored by Benedict XVI, Pope emeritus, and Cardinal Robert Sarah, presently prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship. This book, entitled “From the Depths of our Hearts”, is presented as a strong defense of priestly celibacy, while simply reminding the constant teaching of the Church on that topic, back from the apostolic times.

So, why the publication of a book on priestly celibacy is making such waves in Rome, and throughout the Catholic blogosphere? We can see two reasons:

First, it is because of the timing of the book, as it comes shortly after the Amazon Synod, held in Rome last October. Beside the scandal of the veneration of the Pachamama, we should not forget that one of the main topics of that Synod was to introduce the idea of the ordination of married men “viri probati”, supposed to make up for the lack of priests in some remote areas, and particularly for the needs of the people living in the Amazon region.

The official document that contains the conclusions of the Amazon Synod was supposed to be published before Christmas but has not yet been released. Now, it just happened that a letter sent by Cardinal Hummes, General Rapporteur of the Synod and President of the Pan Amazonic Church Network, was made public. This letter was sent to all the bishops of the world, to give them news about the imminent release of Pope Francis new Apostolic Exhortation called New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology, which is the official document that concludes the Amazon Synod. In the same letter obtained by LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Hummes gives some guidelines to the bishops on how to present the Apostolic Exhortation in their respective diocese, along with resources taken from Pope Francis for the “proper” interpretation of the Apostolic Exhortation. According to Cardinal Hummes, this Apostolic Exhortation on the Amazon Synod is supposed to be released by the end of January or in early February.

We must wait and see if the conclusions of the Amazon Synod will be released as announced. Why? Because the “Conclusions of the Amazon Synod” are probably in contradiction with the contents of the book “From the Depths of our Hearts”, co-authored by Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah.

Modernists and Liberals from all over the world are in rage over the book of Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah. According to journalist Antonio Socci, Pope Francis is also pretty upset about it, because it seems to undermine his agenda.

At the same time, it is hard to believe that Pope Francis was not aware or didn’t give some kind of approval for the publication of book written on such an important topic by the pope emeritus and one of the key members of the Roman curia.

What will happen next? It is difficult to know, because at the time of writing of these lines, the storm is not yet over. Will the Vatican try to bury that controversy under the seal of silence, or are we going to see some heads to fall? Hard to say, but in any case, we should not be troubled.

For sure, no matter what kind of retaliation may or may not be taken against the people who are behind this new book, the agenda of the Amazon Synod and of Pope Francis is now suffering a substantial loss. Meanwhile, we need to keep a supernatural outlook on these events, which Divine providence may use to prevent further damage to the Church. Remember the promises of Our Lord: “I will be with you all days until the consummation of the world.”, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against her (the Church).”

But there is a second reason behind this present-day storm, which may be even more critical.

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28, 2013 paved the way to the election of Pope Francis. Ever since, we have been used to see two popes cohabitating within the Vatican, Francis who carries on with the ‘active ministry’ and Benedict who claims to keep the ‘spiritual ministry’ of St. Peter. Both dress in white and are keeping their respective titles of Francis and Benedict XVI. This new situation is unheard in Church history.

As a matter of fact, the last time we had simultaneous popes in the Catholic Church, it was from 1378 till 1417, at the time of the Great Western Schism, when two or even three men claimed to be popes at the same time. As each one was convinced that he was the true pope and could not admit that another one could pretend to be the successor of Peter, they excommunicated the other pope(s) and all their followers.

But now, in the Vatican, we have two men in white who claim simultaneously to be popes, though not at the same level. This is a very strange situation indeed, and we may wonder how it could be reconciled with the promises of Our Lord to appoint a single man, Peter, as the supreme shepherd of His Church: “Thou art Peter, and upon that rock, I will build My Church.” This promise was given to Peter alone, and through him, to his successors. There was no mention whatsoever of a share of responsibility between several men, as we can see today.

After almost seven years of peaceful cohabitation of Francis with Benedict, the controversy around the publication of a book on priestly celibacy, coauthored by Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah, reveals how fragile is this situation.

The coexistence of two popes, which started in 2013, by which two men seemingly share the papacy is completely new in the Church, and somehow revolutionary resulting in the weakening of the authority of the supreme pontiff.

Now, who is going to be the winner of this new Vatican War? Joseph Ratzinger, the old revolutionary of the 1960’s, ‘converted’ into a conservative near the end of his life? Or is it going to be Jorge Bergoglio, who is an openly liberal? In any case, we could not ignore that both men are sons of the Council Vatican II, the tragic event by which the ideals of the Revolution penetrated the Church.

So, let us pray and offer our Lenten Sacrifices for our Holy Mother the Church, especially during the time of Lent.

More precisely, we are inviting all of our faithful to join with the 40 Hours devotions, which will be held in our parishes of Southern Ontario just before Lent, to pray for our Holy Mother the Church, deeply affected by the crisis that keeps unfolding before our eyes.

Fr. Dominique Boulet