From the Depths of Our Hearts, a new book by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah coming from Ignatius Press next month, has stirred controversy following its publication in France on January 15. Featuring a co-authored introduction, a chapter by Benedict XVI—who retired from his papacy in 2013 and was succeeded by Pope Francis—and a conclusion coauthored by Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah, the new book defends priestly celibacy—a hotly contested issue on which Pope Francis has commented several times in the past.
Critics of From the Depths of Our Hearts say the book opposes Pope Francis’s agenda, and that Benedict’s name and photo is inappropriately featured on the cover. Also, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who works closely with Benedict, indicated Benedict’s wish to be removed from the cover of the book, according to Reuters.
Now, the French publisher Fayard is changing the cover of future editions of From the Depths of Our Hearts to introduce Cardinal Sarah as the sole author, with contributions from Benedict XVI, the New York Times reports. Nevertheless, Ignatius Press is planning on releasing the book as a co-authored project on February 20 with a cover featuring both Benedict and Sarah.
“Ignatius Press published the text as we received it from the French publisher Fayard,” Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius, said in a statement obtained by PW on Wednesday. “Fayard is the publisher with whom we have collaborated on three other Cardinal Sarah titles. The text we received indicates the two authors are Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah.”
The publisher calls the book “a serious and unflinching look at the crisis in the Catholic Church” as well as sex abuse scandals, questions over celibacy, and declining interest in priestly ministry. Ignatius Press founder and editor Father Joseph Fessio added: “Their book is not just about priestly celibacy, important as that is in itself. It is about, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI describes it in his first paragraph: ‘the lasting crisis that the priesthood has been going through for many years.’”
Meanwhile, Cardinal Sarah released a statement affirming both his friendship with Benedict and his obedience to Pope Francis. He also shared documentation of the agreement made with Benedict in order to prove the book was a joint publishing venture.