The Twitter universe exploded today with news about the release of a book entitled, “From the Depths of Our Hearts” by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI after a tweet in Spanish essentially denied that Benedict XVI had written for or given approval of said book.

Tweets have been circulating all day from Cardinal Sarah (I have posted them and translated when necessary from the original French or Italian), from fans and from detractors. (You can find all of these and more on my Twitter account:

Just as the cardinal seemed to be clearing up any doubts in his myriad tweets, the Vatican news portal released the following story about Archbishop Georg Gaenswein who is both private secretary to Benedict XVI and head of the Prefecture of the Papal Household for Pope Francis. He had contacted two news agencies, KNA and the Italian ANSA.

The archbishop is quoted as saying, “I can confirm that this morning, at the indication of the Pope emeritus, I asked Cardinal Robert Sarah to contact the publishers of the book requesting them to remove the name of Benedict XVI as co-author of the book itself, and also to remove his name from the introduction and conclusions”.

“The Pope emeritus in fact knew the Cardinal was preparing a book,” Archbishop Gänswein added, “and had sent a short text of his on the priesthood,” authorizing the Cardinal to use it as he wished. But the Pope emeritus “had not approved any project for a co- signed book, nor had he seen and authorized the cover. It was a misunderstanding, without questioning the good faith of Cardinal Sarah.”

And that seemed to contradict what Cardinal Sarah released today as an official “Communique from His Eminence Monsieur Robert Sarah.” Following is my translation:

“Last September 5, after a visit to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery where Benedict XVI lives, I wrote to the pope emeritus to ask him if it was possible for him to compose a text on Catholic priesthood, with particular attention concerning celibacy. I explained to him that I myself had begun to write a reflection in prayer. I added: ‘I imagine that you would think that reflections on your part might not be opportune because of the polemics they could provoke, perhaps in newspapers but I am convinced that the entire church needs this gift which could be published at Christmas or the beginning of the year 2020’.

“On September 20, the pope emeritus thanked me in writing and said that, for his part, even before receiving my letter, he had begun to write a text on this subject but said his strength did not allow him to edit a theological text. In any case, my letter encouraged him to resume this long work. He added that he would transmit it to me when the translation into Italian would be finished.

“On 12 October, during the synod of bishops for the Amazon, the pope emeritus sent me in a very confidential folder a long text, the fruit of his work of preceding months. “Noting the ample nature of this text in its depth as well as its form, I immediately thought it would not be possible to propose this to a newspaper or magazine with respect to its volume and its quality. I therefore immediately proposed to the pope emeritus the publication of a book that would be an immense good for the Church, putting together his text and mine. After several exchanges with regard to the development of the book, I finally sent on November 19 a complete manuscript to the pope emeritus including, as we decided of common accord, the cover, joint (in common) introduction and conclusion, Benedict XVI’s text and my text. On November 25, the pope emeritus expressed his great satisfaction concerning the edited texts and he just added: ‘For my part I am in agreement that the text to be published in the form you have envisioned’.

“On December 3, I went to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery to thank once again the pope emeritus for having granted me such great confidence. I explained to him that our book would be printed during Christmas vacation, that it would appear Wednesday, January 15 and that as a consequence I would come to bring him the work at the beginning of January upon returning from a trip to my native land.

“The polemics that I have seen in the last hours insinuating that Benedict XVI was not informed about the appearance of the book “From the depths of our Hearts,” is profoundly despicable. I have sincerely pardoned all those who have slandered me or who wish to oppose me to Pope Francis. My attachment to Benedict XVI remains intact and my filial obedience to Pope Francis absolute.”

Along with one of his tweets today, Cardinal Sarah included photocopies of 3 of the letters exchanged with Benedict XVI, including the hand-written signature of the Pope emeritus.

The book is due to appear tomorrow in French, published by Fayard, and in February in English, published by Ignatius Press.

Here is a communique from Ignatius Press on this matter:

Statement from Ignatius Press on From the Depths of Our Hearts

The cover of the English text of “From the Depth of Our Hearts” –

SAN FRANCISCO — In light of recent developments with respect to the Ignatius Press title “FROM THE DEPTHS OF OUR HEARTS,” Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press, issues the following statement:

“Ignatius Press published the text as we received it from the French publisher Fayard. Fayard is the publisher with whom we have collaborated on three other Cardinal Sarah titles. The text we received indicates the two authors are Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah. That text also indicates that Benedict XVI co-authored an introduction and a conclusion with Cardinal Sarah, as well as his own chapter on the priesthood, wherein he describes how his exchanges with Cardinal Sarah gave him the strength to complete what would have gone unfinished.

Given that, according to Benedict XVI’s correspondence and Cardinal Sarah’s statement, the two men collaborated on this book for several months, that none of the essays have appeared elsewhere, and that a joint work as defined by the Chicago Manual of Style is ‘a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contribution be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole,’ Ignatius Press considers this a coauthored publication.

Cardinal Sarah indicates the content of the book remains unchanged. That content, as noted, includes a coauthored introduction, a chapter by Benedict XVI, and a conclusion coauthored by Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah.”