The Two Popes
“It’s unfortunate,” says Gerry Whelan SJ, responding to the news that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has published a passage defended priestly celibacy as Pope Francis considers the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.
In a phone interview from Rome with Pat Coyle, Gerry says that writing something like this causes confusion, not least because it raises the question ‘Is this from the magisterium’? In theory, says Gerry, “Benedict comments as a private citizen, but in practice it’s confusing for people.”
The Irish Jesuit theologian, who teaches in the Gregorian University in Rome and has recently published a book on Pope Francis, says that the release of Benedict’s text, which is included in a book authored by Cardinal Sarah, seems to have been carefully timed. The book appears just as Francis is due to publish, in 2020, his own letter (an ‘apostolic exhortation’) on foot of the historic Amazon Synod that took place last year.
Gerry also looks at whether this new tension portrays a different reality to the picture of friendly disagreement between Bergolio and Ratzinger in the widely acclaimed film The Two Popes.