|Something had to be of such consequence for the Church that Pope Benedict, after six years of almost complete silence, decided to say, along with Cardinal Sarah and citing St. Augustine:
Silere non possum! I cannot remain silent... for I know how much harm my silence might do to myself. For I do not propose to spend my time in the empty enjoyment of ecclesiastical dignity; but I propose to act as mindful of this, that to the one Chief Shepherd [Christ] I must give account of the sheep committed to me. I cannot remain silent nor feign ignorance.
What was it? As the two authors explain in their introduction:
In recent months, while the world was echoing with the din created by a strange media synod that overrode the real Synod, we met together. We exchanged our ideas and our anxieties. We prayed and meditated in silence. Each of our meetings mutually strengthened and calmed us. Our reflections, conducted along different lines, led us to exchange letters. The similarity of our concerns and the convergence of our conclusions persuaded us to place the fruit of our work and of our spiritual friendship at the disposal of all the faithful, following the example of Saint Augustine.
The ‘strange media synod’ that accompanied—and overshadowed or ‘overrode’—the recent Amazon Synod was a cause for alarm. Alarm that some of the proposals for change could strike at the very heart of the Church’s life. The central concern was about changes to the character of the priesthood, and it is to this concern that Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah address themselves. But their book is not just about priestly celibacy, important as that is in itself. It is about, as Pope Benedict describes it in his first paragraph: “the lasting crisis that the priesthood has been going through for many years”. But it is about more than that; it is about the nature of the Church and of Christian discipleship. This is a book that all should read. It is powerful and personal—from the depths of their hearts.
Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.
Founder and Editor,