May 21, 2014 2:43 PM EDT

A collection of letters between former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and an Irish priest was removed from an auction in Ireland on Wednesday. In the letters, the former first lady questions her faith in the wake of the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy.

The Vincentian Fathers and All Hallows College, where the letters between Jackie Kennedy and Father Joseph Leonard were being held, said Wednesday the letters “are being withdrawn from auction at the direction of All Hallows College and the Vincentian Fathers,” according to a statement to the BBC.

Representatives of the college and the Vincentian Fathers are now “exploring with members of Mrs. Kennedy’s family how best to preserve and curate this archive for the future.”

Sheppard’s Irish Auction House, which was scheduled to host the sale of the personal letters, said in a statement on its website that Sheppard’s is in the process of returning the archive and related items to the vendor. TIME’s requests for further comment were not immediately returned. In an earlier statement, the auction house referred to the letters as a “unpublished autobiography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.”

Critics of the sale, however, said the correspondence was never meant for public consumption. Controversy over the sale had been brewing since the sale of the 33 letters was announced in April, given their deeply personal nature.

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