After Pope Benedict stepped down in 2013, he vowed silence on key issues.
Some believe the more progressive Pope Francis may attempt to remove celibacy as a requirement for all priests.
In countries such as Brazil, a shortage of priests prevents many faithful from attending Mass for months at a time. However, he issued a letter on clergy sexual abuse in April 2019 and has now published a book on priestly celibacy.
Pope Francis is now considering whether to allow "viri probati" - married "men of proven virtue" - to join the priesthood in certain circumstances, such as in remote locations like the Amazon where communities seldom have Mass due to a lack of priests.
For traditionalists, this is about the direction in which Pope Francis is taking the Church.
VATICAN CITY, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Roman Catholic scholars rebuked the former Pope Benedict on Monday for his comments in a new book regarding the delicate matter of priestly celibacy, saying his words were helping to destabilise the reigning Pope Francis. "They write in the book about church unity but this surely is not contributing to unity", said Mr O'Connell.More news: Stefanski officially hired as Browns' GM search continues
Supporters say it would not be necessary to rewrite church law; Francis could simply make an exemption to the rules, such as the one already granted to married Anglican pastors who later converted to Catholicism.
Marriage, he writes, requires man to give himself totally to his family.
He said: "Since serving the Lord likewise requires the total gift of a man, it does not seem possible to carry on the two vocations simultaneously".
In October, Catholic bishops from around the world gathered for a meeting, known as the synod, to discuss the future of the Church in the Amazon.
"It is urgent and necessary for everyone - bishops, priests and lay people - to take a fresh look with the eyes of faith at the Church and at priestly celibacy which protects her mystery".
The implications for such an intervention are likely to fuel renewed anxiety about the unprecedented situation of two popes, but both authors wrote in the book that it was written "in a spirit of filial obedience to Francis".More news: Mourinho hints Kane may not play for Tottenham again this season
The film, starring Anthony Hopkins as Benedict and Jonathan Pryce as Francis, imagines a days-long conversation between the two men before Benedict announced his historic resignation February 11, 2013 - conversations in which their different views of the state of the church become apparent.
"From that "I can not be silent" we must deduce that those who claimed that there are two popes, seven years after Benedict XVI's abdication, were right", said Italian journalist Fabrizio Grasso in an interview with Religion News Service (Jan. 13).
Those meetings never happened, and the two men didn't know one another well before Francis was elected pope.
"When Benedict resigned in 2013, many people had qualms about what it would mean to have him living inside the Vatican".
"Emeritus Pope Benedict's reaffirmation of the rule, does not exclude potential exceptions to it, with which he would be entirely familiar".
Mark Brumley, the president of Ignatius Press, however, denounced such conspiracies and said Benedict isn't being used.More news: The Academy Snubs Beyonce And Jennifer Lopez At 2020 Oscars
Benedict wrote the book, "From the Depths of Our Hearts", with Cardinal Robert Sarah, 74, a Guinean prelate who heads the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. "Let's pray for healing for the critics that they can rejoice in a new work from two great churchmen of our time, including a major theologian".