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The new book written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cdl. Robert Sarah, From the Depths of Our Hearts, has caused an earthquake even before it has been published, as well as an unhinged and angry barrage from certain Bergoglianists, as if Benedict does not have the right to speak; Bergoglio himself, in the past, has invited him to express himself.
The earthquake was caused by the preview published in newspapers of their defense of priestly celibacy (which they define as "indispensable"). But also by their general tone, which proves the gravity of the situation, because these two men of God — although showing respect to the Argentine Pope — seem to say to Bergoglio: "Stop, you are leading the Church off the road, into the ditch."
Quoting St. Augustine, they affirm: "We can no longer be silent."
After enduring for so long the regrettable spectacles of the Bergoglian Era (such as the Pachamama idol worshipped in Saint Peter's Basilica during the Synod on the Amazon) — after having tried for a long time through confidential and fraternal ways to discourage Bergoglio from pursuing his revolutionary tearing apart of the Church — they now declare that they have duty of conscience before God and the Church: "It was our sacred duty to recall the truth of the Catholic priesthood. In these difficult times, each person must fear that one day God will address this bitter reproach to him: 'Accursed are you, for you said nothing.'"
Quoting these words of St. Catherine of Siena, the great flogger of popes, they want to remind all Churchmen (Bergoglio included) to think of the only judgment that counts, which is not the judgment of the newspapers and the powers of this world, but the judgment of God.
It is therefore wrong to chase after the applause of the media, of intellectuals and mainstream politicians; it is necessary to please God, something that usually (as Jesus warns in the Gospel) brings with it the hatred and mockery of worldly power, not its applause.
It appears, among other things, that the book is not limited to shouting "Halt!" to Bergoglio on the theme of priestly celibacy, who is about to publish his conclusions from the Synod on the Amazon, as well as to the German bishops, who have launched their "revolutionary" synod (in both cases celibacy is targeted).
Benedict and Cdl. Sarah also address other burning issues — from the Eucharist to the liturgy — that are equally under fire from the "revolutionaries."
Actually, the present clerical power is trying to conform itself to the Protestant denominations of northern Europe, and this is the reason that the controversy centers on the sacraments, which are the pillars of the Catholic Church. It is no coincidence that the priesthood, celibacy and the Eucharist were also the mark of Luther's great ruptures.
But following this path is suicide for the Church. Moreover, the total failure of the Protestant model (such as "married pastor") is sensationally obvious in northern Europe, which is now completely de-Christianized. The sale being offered — cassock and wife, two for the price of one — does not work.
The same can be said about the old "progressive" idea that has failed in South America, of the "priest-as-one-of-us" — as a politician and social activist. The vertical collapse of vocations and Church membership in Latin America demonstrates that this model leads to the end of the Church.
An authoritative American sociologist, Rodney Stark, analyzing the different denominations in the United States, has demonstrated that religious proposals are more attractive — whether in terms of membership or in terms of numbers of vocations. The more it is "other" with respect to the world, the more it offers a demanding and radical life.
In the Church today, the flourishing of vocations does not occur at all in progressive circles that preach embracing the world and worldly ideologies. Where do vocations flourish? In those places that — following the charism of the saints — offer the experience of Heaven on earth, presenting a very strong ideal (these are the very places that Bergoglio accuses of fundamentalism and tries to demolish).
This is why Benedict and Cdl. Sarah — who also emphasize the immense dignity of matrimony, elevated to a sacrament by Jesus Christ — affirm that the priesthood must be a total donation to God, not a partial one, in order to be like Christ and live like him; it is "a renunciation of earthly family life" that announces "new heavens and a new earth," whereas, "the possibility of ordaining married men would represent a pastoral catastrophe, an ecclesiological confusion and an obscuring of the understanding of the priesthood."
Historical studies have now demonstrated that it is not actually true that celibacy was introduced in later times after the Apostolic Age, but the truth is the exact opposite: From the very beginning, celibacy was the ideal of apostolic life, following in the footsteps of Jesus (whereas in later centuries the Eastern Christians introduced married priests, but not the Catholic Church).
Cardinal Sarah has said that with this intervention, Benedict "wanted to reassure millions of Christians who feel disoriented" and that he wanted to comfort so many bewildered priests. This is, in effect, the role of Peter. It is no accident that he signs the book with his name as pope: Benedict XVI.
First printed in Libero on Jan. 14, 2020
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino