January 14, 2020
By Nicole Winfield
The Vatican cardinal who co-authored a bombshell book with Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI reaffirming priestly celibacy on Tuesday strongly denied he manipulated the retired pope into publishing.
Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, who heads the Vatican’s liturgy office, spoke out after news reports quoting “sources close to Benedict” claimed the retired pope never saw or approved the finished product.
Sarah reproduced letters from Benedict making clear the 92-year-old pope had written the text and approved of publishing it as a book. “These defamations are of exceptional gravity,” Sarah tweeted.
The controversy underscores the conservative-progressive battle lines that have deepened in the Catholic Church following Benedict’s 2013 decision to retire, and his successor Pope Francis’ more reform-minded papacy.