Former Pope Benedict wants his name removed as co-author of a controversial book on the issue of priestly celibacy, his personal secretary said on Tuesday.
Archbishop Georg Ganswein told Reuters that, at the former pope’s behest, he had asked the principal author of the book, Cardinal Robert Sarah, to contact the publishers and make the necessary changes.
The book, “From the Depths of Our Hearts”, is due to be published in France on Wednesday. Excerpts were released at the weekend, angering some Roman Catholic scholars who said Benedict risked destabilising the reigning Pope Francis.
It was the latest twist in a saga that has riveted the Roman Catholic world, underscoring the polarisation between conservatives and progressives in the 1.3 billion-member Church and prompting fresh debate on the role of a former pontiff.
Hours earlier, Sarah rejected media accusations that he had used Benedict’s name without authorisation and had taken advantage of the frail, 92-year-old ex-pontiff.
“I solemnly affirm that Benedict XVI knew that our project would take the form of a book. I can say that we exchanged several texts to establish the corrections,” Sarah, 74, wrote on Twitter.
He later said that in future editions of the book, Benedict would be named as a contributor and not a co-author. “However, the full text remains absolutely unchanged,” he said.