Pope Francis, 86, with fellow Argentine Archbishop Victor Fernández, 60, 26 years younger, together at the Vatican on June 30, two weeks ago, just before Francis announced on July 1 that he had chosen Fernandez to head the Church’s top doctrinal office, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (the office Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger held for 24 years under Pope John Paul II, from 1981 until 2005) — a choice that has become in recent days quite controversial (see, for example, this link at Lifesitenews… Below, a dossier on some of the reasons why the choice is controversial… Photo Credit | Twitter (link)

    Letter #111, 2023, Monday, July 17: Fernandez

    I begin with an expression of thanks to all who receive this letter — thank you! Thanks for continuing to stay on this list, and especially thank you to all who have supported this letter over the years. And, if you would consider inviting any friends to also subscribe to this list, please do so, it helps us if we can grow this list. Send them here to subscribe…

    Second, a bit of news: Twitter has decided to unblock the Twitter account of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 82, which was blocked on Saturday.

    In this regard, I received a letter from a concerned reader yesterday which said:

    “Dear Mr. Moynihan,

    I shared your article (link) with my group and was accused of confirmation bias. I was sent the link to Archbishop Vigano’s Twitter (link) and informed it was not locked at all. He also said your reporting of this was just for clicks. Honestly, I don’t know how to respond. I no longer have a Twitter account and cannot verify anything either of you say. Could you do a follow up with more details? 


    I answered:

    “His Twitter account was briefly blocked by Twitter. It has just been unblocked. I will send out another letter explaining it… Thanks for writing.”

    This is that letter, yet I do not really have any explanation for the blocking, or the unblocking, as I have no knowledge of the inner decision-making process at Twitter. It seemed to me that the decision to block the account for a brief time must have stemmed from Twitter’s content algorithm, which must have judged that some of his content violated the portal’s publication guidelines and standards. And that the judgment must have been reconsidered and overturned the next day, re-activating the account. I did not send the email out to gather “clicks,” but only to report these facts. And I added one of Viganò’s briefly censored texts, saying, more or less, “I do not have $44 billion dollars (the price Elon Musk paid to buy the Twitter platform), but I do have a letter, which is free, and where I may publish writing which others may exclude.” And I asked readers to support me for this reason — and you may do so at this link

    But this raises a more general point, which is related to the whole purpose of this letter, and of writing about the Church and the Christian faith in general.

    And that is, that we live increasingly in a world where our own search choices are recorded. This builds up a record that becomes a “guiding algorithm” to propose other sites and postings to our attention. This means that, as we read various things on the internet, we tend to build up a kind of “guilded cage” inside of which we remain unless we intentionally seek out new and differing sites that we have never sought out before. In other words, there is a danger in the present system of seeking information that our own search history becomes determinative for what the “search algorithm” will propose to us, meaning… we will only see things which correspond with what we have already searched for, and, seemingly, which will confirm us ever more strongly in whatever position we started from.

    I have been trying to think through how this letter might be helpful in this context. And my conclusion: I will try to seek out information to the best of my ability from as wide as possible a spectrum of sources, so that readers of this letter will not be confined inside a reverberating echo chamber where important ideas that might be helpful in getting at the truth of our situation might be excluded due to “the algorithm.”

    In a sense, I am seeking to “break the algorithm” in order to get at the truth of things — and I would like your help as I proceed down this path. Please feel free to suggest information and sites to me that I may not be aware of.

    And do consider supporting this letter, as we discuss issues ranging from the war in Ukraine, to the October Synod, to Archbishop Vigano’s thoughts, to the growing influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our society.

    So this is a moment of transition in this letter, and I hope you will observe a widening and deepening of the discussion here, and the information presented, in the days and weeks ahead. —RM

    P.S. Please do consider supporting this writing. Thank you. (link)

    A new approach to Catholic Doctrine begins in the Vatican

    Here is my introduction to the controversial Fernandez appointment.

    Following the introduction I include a series of articles and texts so that you may have information to judge the meaning of the decision.

    I note that this letter is not definitive, but a work in process, and I intend to come back to the question of Fernandez and his appointment.

    So what is written today here cannot be regarded as a final judgment on the matter.


    Pope Francis has appointed his longtime collaborator and fellow Argentinian Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández as the new head of the Dicastery (formerly “Congregation”) for the Doctrine of the Faith, replacing the Spanish Jesuit Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, whose term ran from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2023.

    Francis then announced a week later, on July 9, that Fernandez would be among the 21 new cardinals he will create on September 30 in Rome.

    When he announced his appointment of Archbishop Fernandez on July 1, Pope Francis quoted his own apostolic exhortations Evangelii Gaudium and Gaudete et Exsultate.

    Said the Pope in a letter addressed personally to Archbishop Fernández which was released along with news of his appointment (full text below):

    The Dicastery over which you will preside in other times came to use immoral methods. Those were times when, rather than promoting theological knowledge, possible doctrinal errors were pursued. What I expect from you is certainly something very different.”

    Francis continued by saying that Fernández’s task as the new head of the Vatican’s doctrine office “should express that the Church ‘encourages the charism of theologians and their theological research efforts’ as long as ‘they are not content with a desk theology,’ with ‘a cold, hard logic that seeks to dominate everything.’ It will always be true that reality is superior to the idea.”

    So this appointment is the result of Pope Francis’ belief that “reality is superior to the idea” — though this maxim is questioned in some circles (in fact, St. Thomas Aquinas might have disagreed).

    In any case, through this appointment, the Pope’s vision — that Catholic theology be explored in an intimate and continuing relationship with “reality,” and not just in conformity with an “idea” will be put into practice in a definitive way in the Catholic Church, beginning now.


    Archbishop Fernandez is a theologian, professor and prolific writer who has contributed as one of Pope Francis’ “ghostwriters” to documents like his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudiam and his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. Likewise, he is credited as the major author of the 2016 Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

    Some of his views on doctrine and morality are controversial.

    It took two years for Fernandez’ appointment by then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the post of rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina to be approved by the Vatican due to questions about his orthodoxy as evidenced in some of his writings.

    Fernandez himself has said that “in many issues I am far more progressive than the Pope.”

    So, on the one hand, he has made it clear in his writings that he is of a “new” disposition regarding Church teaching on divorce and remarriage, toward sexuality and same-sex relationships, and perhaps toward the very issue of “doctrine” itself.

    On the other hand, he seems to be quite in step with the pontiff, who has promoted Fernández every step of the way since he was made head of the drafting committee for the Aparecida Conference of CELAM in 2007.

    The fact that the Vatican many years ago resisted Fernández’s appointment by Cardinal Bergoglio as rector of the Catholic University of Argentina only seems to have strengthened Bergoglio’s support of the theologian, and, after Fernandez was made the university’s rector, Francis, as Pope, made Fernández an archbishop — a first for a rector of the university.

    With this appointment, the doctrinal office of the Catholic Church may have entered a new (and unprecedented) era, in which teachings at odds with Catholic Tradition are no longer considered highly problematic and needing to be condemned as dangerous.

    In fact, it seems implied that correcting problematic doctrines, in the manner of the Inquisition of prior centuries, may not be done at all under Fernandez’s leadership of the doctrinal office.


    This is the document the Vatican published about the life and work of Archbishop Fernandez:

    Resignations and Appointments, 01.07.2023 (link)

    Conclusion of mandate of prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and appointment of successor

    Letter of the Holy Father to the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

    Appointment of bishop of Lwena, Angola

    Appointment of vicar apostolic of Aleppo of the Latins, Syria

    Conclusion of mandate of prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and appointment of successor

    The Holy Father Francis has thanked his Eminence Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., at the conclusion of his mandate as prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission, and has called Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández of La Plata, Argentina, to succeed him in the same roles. Archbishop Fernández will take office in mid-September 2023.

    Curriculum vitae

    Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández was born on 18 July 1962 in Alcira Gigena, in the province of Córdoba, Argentina. He was ordained a priest on 15 August 1986 for the diocese of Villa de la Concepción del Río Cuarto, Argentina.

    He was awarded a licentiate in theology with biblical specialization from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and subsequently a doctorate in theology from the Faculty of Theology of Buenos Aires.

    From 1993 to 2000 he was parish priest of Santa Teresita in Río Cuarto, Córdoba. He was the founder and director of the Institute for Lay Formation and the Jesús Buen Pastor Formation Centre for Teachers in the same city. In his diocese he was also a seminary formator, director for ecumenism and director for catechesis.

    In 2007 he participated in the Fifth Conference of Latin American Bishops (Aparecida) as a priest representing Argentina and later as a member of the drafting group for the final document.

    From 2008 to 2009 he was dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and president of the Argentine Theological Society.

    From 2009 to 2018 he was rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.

    On 13 May 2013 he was appointed archbishop by Pope Francis.

    He participated, as a member, in the 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops on the family, in which he was also part of the drafting groups.

    In the 2017 Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, he was elected president of the Episcopal Commission for Faith and Culture (Doctrinal Commission).

    In June 2018 he assumed the office of archbishop of La Plata.

    He has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and Consultor of the Congregation for Catholic Education. He is currently a member of the Dicastery for Culture and Education.

    He has published more than 300 books and scientific articles, many of which have been translated into various languages. These works demonstrate an important biblical foundation and a constant commitment to the dialogue between theology and culture, the evangelizing mission, spirituality and social issues.

    Some publications


    Salir de sí. Plenitud de conocimiento y de vida en san Buenaventura, Ediciones del Icala, Córdoba 1991.

    San Juan y su mundo. Comentario al cuarto Evangelio, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 1992.

    El Apocalipsis y el tercer milenio, San Pablo, Buenos Aires-Bogotá 1998.

    Un Padre. Encuentros con la primera Persona, PaulinasBuenos Aires 1999.

    Encuentros con la Eucaristía, Paulinas, Buenos Aires 1999.

    Actividad, espiritualidad y descanso, San Pablo, Madrid 2001.

    La gracia y la vida entera, Herder, Barcelona 2003.

    Claves para vivir en plenitud, San Pablo, Madrid 2003.

    Teología espiritual encarnada. Profundidad espiritual en acción, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 2004

    La oración pastoral, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 2006.

    Valores argentinos o un país insulso, Bouquet, Buenos Aires 2006.

    Aparecida. Guía-Comentario al documento y otros aportes, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 2007.

    Cómo interpretar y comunicar la Palabra de Dios. Métodos y recursos prácticos, San PabloBuenos Aires 2008.

    Pablo apasionado. De Tarso hasta su plenitud, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 2008.

    Conversión pastoral y nuevas estructuras, Agape, Buenos Aires 2010.

    Gracia. Nociones básicas para pensar la vida nueva, AgapeBuenos Aires 2010.

    La fuerza sanadora de la mística, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 2012.

    La fuerza transformadora de la mística, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 2013.

    Il progetto di Francesco, EMI, Bologna 2014.

    Dar da mangiare, dar da bere, EMI, Bologna 2015.

    El fruto del Espíritu Santo. Una vida diferente es posible, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 2019.

    Río de alabanza. Sólo Dios, Agape, Buenos Aires 2022.

    Catequesis con Espíritu, Agape, Buenos Aires 2023.


    Obras mayores que las de Cristo (Jn 14, 12-14), Revista bíblica 58, Buenos Aires 1995.

    Gracia y predestinación (Romanos 1-11), Teología 65, Buenos Aires 1995.

    Lamentaciones, en W. Farmer et al., Comentario Bíblico Internacional, Verbo Divino, Estella 1999.

    El misterio del pobre en la economía globalizada, en Ferrara-Galli eds., Nuestro Padre misericordioso, Paulinas, Buenos Aires 1999.

    Tareas y desafíos para la Filosofía, en Varios, Fe y Razón, Educa, Buenos Aires 1999.

    Sentido teológico de la paternidad de la primera Persona, Angelicum 77, Roma 2000.

    El cristiano ante el magisterio del Judaísmo, El Olivo, Madrid 2000.

    Inmortalidad, cuerpo y materia, Angelicum 78, Roma 2001.

    Le meilleur de la Lettre aux Romains procède du judaïsme de Paul, Nouvelle Revue Théologique 124/3, Bruxelles 2002.

    Carta a los Romanos, en Comentario Bíblico Latinoamericano, Verbo Divino, Estella 2003, 777-816.

    “¿Tomarán serpientes en sus manos?”. Exégesis de extrañas promesas (Mc 16, 14-18), en Teología 85, Buenos Aires 2004.

    L’introculturation de la spiritualité. Encore un neologisme necessaire, Nouvelle Revue Teologique 125/4, Bruxelles 2004.

    La dimensión trinitaria de la Moral. I. Aspecto místico, en Teología 87, Buenos Aires 2005.

    La dimensión trinitaria de la Moral. II. Profundización del aspecto ético a la luz de Deus caritas est, en Teología 87, Buenos Aires 2005.

    El carácter del Sacramento de la Confirmación, en Teología 86, Buenos Aires 2005.

    La complementarité irréductible. L’herménéutique biblique après la Shoah, Nouvelle Revue Théologique 128/4, Bruxelles 2006.

    La legitimidad de la opinión de los pastores sobre cuestiones sociales en una sociedad pluralista, en Pastores 36, Buenos Aires 2006.

    Estructuras internas de la vitalidad cristiana. La vida digna y plena como clave de interpretación de “Aparecida”, en Teología 93, Buenos Aires 2007.

    Amor y justicia en la vida social, en Fernández-Galli, Eros y agape, San Pablo, Buenos Aires 2008.

    La misión como comunicación de vida. Un estado permanente de misión para la plenitud de nuestros pueblos, en CELAM, Testigos de Aparecida, Bogotá 2008.

    Pablo de Tarso, de la adhesión personal a Cristo al compromiso comunitario y social, en Seminarios 192, Salamanca 2009.

    El diálogo con la cultura en perspectiva latinoamericana, en O. González de C., Nuevos horizontes, San Benito, Buenos Aires 2010.

    Cinco claves de fondo para leer Laudato si’, en Arellano-Granados, Loado seas mi Señor. Comentario a la encíclica Laudato si’, BAC, Madrid 2016.

    El capítulo VIII de Amoris laetitia. Lo que queda después de la tormenta, en revista Medellínagosto 2017.

    El kerygma y la inculturación, en Comisión Episcopal de Fe y Cultura – CEA, La inculturación del kerygma, Oficina del libro, Buenos Aires 2019.

    La conversione pastorale, en Pontificio Consiglio per la Promozione della Nuova Evangelizzazione, Una pastorale rinnovata. Vol. 2, San Paolo, Milano 2020.

    Letter of the Holy Father to the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

    To His Most Reverend Excellency

    Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández

    Vatican City, 1 July 2023

    Dear Brother,

    As the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, I entrust to you a task that I consider very valuable. Its central purpose is to guard the teaching that flows from the faith in order to ” to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns”.1

    The Dicastery over which you will preside in other times came to use immoral methods. Those were times when, rather than promoting theological knowledge, possible doctrinal errors were pursued. What I expect from you is certainly something very different.

    You have served as dean of the Faculty of Theology of Buenos Aires, president of the Argentinean Society of Theology and president of the Faith and Culture Commission of the Argentinean Episcopate, in all cases voted by your peers, who have thus valued your theological charisma. As rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina you encouraged a healthy integration of knowledge. On the other hand, you were parish priest of “Santa Teresita” and until now archbishop of La Plata, where you knew how to bring theological knowledge into dialogue with the life of the holy People of God.

    Given that for disciplinary matters – especially related to the abuse of minors – a specific Section has recently been created with very competent professionals, I ask you as prefect to dedicate your personal commitment more directly to the main purpose of the Dicastery which is “keeping the faith”.2

    In order not to limit the significance of this task, it should be added that it is a matter of “increasing the understanding and transmission of the faith in the service of evangelization, so that its light may be a criterion for understanding the meaning of existence, especially in the face of the questions posed by the progress of the sciences and the development of society”. 3 These issues, incorporated in a renewed proclamation of the Gospel message, “become tools of evangelization” 4 because they allow is to enter into conversation with “our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity” 5.

    Moreover, you know that the Church “grow in her interpretation of the revealed word and in her understanding of truth” 6 without this implying the imposition of a single way of expressing it. For “Differing currents of thought in philosophy, theology and pastoral practice, if open to being reconciled by the Spirit in respect and love, can enable the Church to grow” 7. This harmonious growth will preserve Christian doctrine more effectively than any control mechanism.

    It is good that your task expresses that the Church “encourages the charism of theologians and their scholarly efforts” as long as they are not “content with a desk-bound theology” 8, with a “a cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything” 9. It will always be true that reality is superior to the idea. In this sense, we need theology to be attentive to a fundamental criterion: to consider that “all theological notions that ultimately call into question the very omnipotence of God, and his mercy in particular, are inadequate” 10. We need a way of thinking which can convincingly present a God who loves, who forgives, who saves, who liberates, who promotes people and calls them to fraternal service.

    This happens if “the message has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary” 11. You are well aware that there is a harmonious order among the truths of our message, and the greatest danger occurs when secondary issues end up overshadowing the central ones.

    In the horizon of this richness, your task also implies a special care to verify that the documents of your own Dicastery and of the others have an adequate theological support, are coherent with the rich humus of the perennial teaching of the Church and at the same time take into account the recent Magisterium.

    May the Blessed Virgin protect and watch over you in this new mission. Please do not cease to pray for me.




    [1] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 271.

    [2] Motu proprio Fidem servare (11 February 2022), Introduction.

    [3] Ibíd., 2.

    [4] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 132.

    [5] Encyclical Letter Laudato si (24 May 2015), 17.

    [6] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 40.

    [7] Ibíd.

    [8] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 133.

    [9] Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate (19 March 2018), 39.

    [10] International Theological Commission, The Hope of Salvation for Infants who die without being baptized (19 April 2007), 2.

    [11] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 35.

    Appointment of bishop of Lwena, Angola

    The Holy Father has appointed the Reverend Martín Lasarte Topolansky, S.D.B., until now provincial superior of the Salesian Society of Saint John Bosco (Salesians) in Angola.

    Curriculum vitae

    Msgr. Martín Lasarte Topolansky, S.D.B., was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 12 October 1962. After entering the Salesian novitiate of Montevideo-Manga, he gave his first vows on 31 January 1982. In 1990 he was sent as a deacon to Angola, in the diocese of Lwena.

    He received priestly ordination on 17 August 1991 in Montevideo.

    Following specialist studies in sacred scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome (1991-1995), he went on to serve as formator in the Salesian Seminary and professor in the Major Seminary of Luanda (1995-2001); parish priest of São Pedro e São Paulo in Lwena and advisor to the Mamã Muxima Visitation of Angola (2001-2008); delegate for Salesian youth pastoral care in Angola, professor at the Major Seminary of Luanda, the Universidade Católica de Angola and the Instituto Superior Dom Bosco, Luanda, and director of the department of the Universidade Católica de Angola (2009-2015); vicar of the Mamã Muxima Visitation of Angola (2013-2015); collaborator in the Department for Missions of the General Curia of the Salesians of Don Bosco (2015-2020). From 2020 until now he has been Superior of the Mamã Muxima Visitation of Angola.

    Appointment of vicar apostolic of Aleppo of the Latins, Syria

    The Holy Father has appointed the Reverend Fr. Hanna Jallouf, O.F.M., currently parish priest of Knaye, Syria, as vicar apostolic of Aleppo of the Latins.

    Curriculum vitae

    Msgr. Fr. Hanna Jallouf was born in Knayeh, Syria, on 16 July 1952. He entered the Custody of the Holy Land, studied philosophy and theology in Assisi and was awarded a licentiate in history in Beirut and a licentiate in youth pastoral care and catechetics from the Salesian Pontifical University of Rome.

    He gave his religious vows on 17 February 1979, and was ordained a priest on 29 July of the same year.

    He has held the following offices: vice-rector (1979-1982) and then rector of the Terra Sancta College of Amman in Jordan (1992-2001); and rector of the Franciscan Minor Seminary in Aleppo (1982-1987). Since 2001 he has served as superior and parish priest in Ghassanieh, Knaye and Jisser El Chougur. He speaks Arabic, Italian and French.

    Here is one news account, from Catholic News Agency, of the appointment:

    Pope Francis appoints Argentine Archbishop Fernández as head of doctrine dicastery (link)

    By Hannah Brockhaus

    Rome Newsroom, Jul 1, 2023 / 08:20 am

    Pope Francis has named Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, his longtime personal theologian and ghostwriter, to lead the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    The Argentine prelate succeeds Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, SJ, 79, who has been prefect of the dicastery since 2017.

    Fernández, almost 61, will take up his new post in the middle of September, the Vatican said. The prolific writer has been archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, since 2018.

    “As the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, I entrust to you a task that I consider very valuable,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter to Fernández, published July 1 with the announcement of his appointment.

    The pope said the dicastery at times has promoted pursuing “doctrinal errors” over “promoting theological knowledge.”

    “What I expect from you is certainly something very different,” Francis said. “I ask you as prefect to dedicate your personal commitment in a more direct way to the main purpose of the dicastery, which is ‘guarding the faith.’”

    Fernández posted a photo of himself with Pope Francis on Twitter on June 30, the day before the announcement of his appointment as doctrine prefect.

    He said he spent the week with the pope and called it “the new stage for Francis.”

    “He works more hours than anyone else in the Vatican,” the archbishop wrote in Spanish. “Here he is seen tired after five hours with dense stuff, but after a siesta he was perfect and happy.”

    Fernández is a controversial figure in the Church in Argentina, in part because of some of his past publications. The theologian has published more than 300 articles and books.

    Pope Francis, who has known Fernández for decades, reportedly entrusted him with drafting his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, a text in which the archbishop cited his own prior scholarship as a source document.

    The archbishop was also reputedly involved in the drafting of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family, which followed the Church’s two synods on the family.

    Fernández was heavily involved in both synods on the family in 2014 and 2015 and was on the commission for the writing of the 2015 synod’s final report.

    Quoting his apostolic exhortations Evangelii Gaudium and Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis wrote that Fernández’s task as the new head of the Vatican’s doctrine office “should express that the Church ‘encourages the charism of theologians and their theological research efforts’ as long as ‘they are not content with a desk theology,’ with ‘a cold, hard logic that seeks to dominate everything.’ It will always be true that reality is superior to the idea.”

    Fernández was born in 1962 in the small rural town of Alcira, in the Province of Córdoba. He was ordained a priest in August 1986 in Río Cuarto, a mostly rural diocese. In 1988 he obtained a degree in theology with a biblical specialization at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and then obtained a doctorate in theology at the UCA in 1990. He was pastor of Santa Teresita in Río Cuarto (Córdoba) from 1993 to 2000 and was founder and director of the Jesús Buen Pastor Lay Formation Institute and Teacher Training Center in the same city.

    In the early 1990s he moved to Buenos Aires, where he was appointed a consultor to several commissions within the Argentinean bishops’ conference and the Latin American Bishops Council (CELAM).

    Having shown a great capacity for writing, Fernández was brought by then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as an expert to the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, held in 2007 at the Brazilian Marian shrine of Aparecida.

    Aparecida, many sources have claimed, solidified the relationship between the future pope and the theologian.

    From 2008 to 2009 he was dean of the faculty of theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and president of the Argentine Theological Society.

    On Dec. 15, 2009, Cardinal Bergoglio appointed Fernández as rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. However, Fernández was not able to take the oath of office until May 20, 2011, after he had answered objections to his appointment raised by Vatican officials who expressed concerns about the orthodoxy of certain elements of his scholarship.

    An avid writer, by the time Fernández was chosen by Bergoglio as the UCA rector, he had written hundreds of articles and books, including, “Incarnated Spiritual Theology” (2004), a book that was featured in the Argentinean soap opera “Esperanza Mía,” about an illicit love affair between a priest and a nun.

    The book commonly regarded as his most unusual is the 1995 work “Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing.” Regarding the book, Fernández explained that “in these pages I want to synthesize the popular feeling, what people feel when they think of a kiss, what they experience when they kiss … So, trying to synthesize the immense richness of life, these pages emerged in favor of kissing. I hope that they help you kiss better, that they motivate you to release the best of yourself in a kiss.”

    The book has disappeared from most official lists of Fernández’s works.

    Pope Francis appointed Fernández the titular Archbishop of Tiburnia on May 13, 2013, thus making him the first rector of UCA to become an archbishop.

    [End CNA article]

    Here is an interesting interview Fernandez just granted:

    Víctor Manuel Fernández to InfoVaticana: “What is wrong is wrong and I defend objective morality” (link)

    By Javier Arias | July 05, 2023

    The recently appointed Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Víctor Manuel Fernández, has given his first interview to InfoVaticana.

    The Argentine prelate will bid farewell to his diocese with a Thanksgiving Mass on August 5. From La Plata he will travel to Rome where he will be installed to succeed Cardinal Ladaria at the head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    Tucho Fernández has addressed in this interview topics such as the German Synodal Path, the decree issued by the Dicastery in 2021 on the refusal to bless homosexual couples or his controversial book that everyone is talking about.

    Q- What will be your main lines of work as Prefect of the Department for the Doctrine of the Faith?

    R-Yesterday I sent a letter to the members of the Dicastery telling them that I admired Cardinal Ladaria as a theologian and also for his style of work, which I consider exemplary, but I added that I would do it “in my own way” as the Italian song says. Given the Pope’s call for synodality, I will have to listen a bit first before making decisions, but there are certainly considerations from the letter the Pope sent me that we will have to apply in some way.

    Q- Why did you ask the Pope not to deal with the issue of abuse?

    R-The first time he offered me this position, I answered no, first of all because I did not consider myself suitable to lead the work in the disciplinary area. I am not a canonist, and in fact when I arrived in La Plata I had little idea of ​​how to deal with these issues. It is complex because in principle one has to believe those who present accusations of child abuse, one must believe them, and on the other hand one cannot convict the priest without due process, which requires time. And in the middle come all the claims to which one has to respond by saying as little as possible so as not to interfere.

    At that time I let myself be guided by the canonists and I was learning, but with enormous suffering for fear of being unfair to one or the other. You imagine that having to go to Rome to take care of that was torture. But the Pope told me that, precisely, what he wanted was for the Prefect to delegate this task to the Disciplinary Section, which was created recently, because it has highly qualified professionals, and added: “I ask you as Prefect to dedicate your personal commitment to more directly to the main purpose of the Dicastery» related to faith, Theology, the transmission of faith. In this I felt more secure. If “humility is true”, I feel secure with my theological knowledge, even though I have written many prayer booklets, or simple catechisms. I am a theologian and the Pope emphasizes in his letter that I was dean of theology, President of the Argentine Society of Theology and President of the Episcopal Commission for Faith and Culture (doctrinal) always elected by vote by my peers. It was not out of accommodation or friendship with Bergoglio.

“Other ‘courts’ of the time were far more cruel and immoral than the Catholic Church.”

    Q-In your letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of La Plata, your statement that the Holy Office even tortured and killed generated controversy. Do you reiterate it?

    R-In that letter I said that “not everything was like that”, but we cannot deny that there were tortures and deaths. We know that this cannot be judged with current criteria. I reiterated it in a journalistic interview. But what is wrong is wrong and I defend objective morality. If historical conditioning can reduce guilt, and this must be considered in our judgments, we cannot deny that this was “objectively” bad. We also know that other “courts” of the time were much more cruel and immoral than the Catholic Church, even those of other Christian denominations, but what is wrong is wrong.

“In my style of Archbishop, that concern for ordaining women or things like that has not been present.”

    Q-One of the main challenges you will face is the controversial German Synodal Path, how do you intend to address this problem?

    R-I confess that being Archbishop of La Plata I got excited about what is mine, which is to announce the Gospel, preach, instill spirituality (did you know that most of my books are about God, prayer, Mary, the Mass, confession, eternal life…?) and I devoted little time to ecclesiastical internships. For an entire year I did a radio program every day dedicated only to talking about God and his attributes. Germans always attract attention, and in my style as an Archbishop that concern for ordaining women or the like has not been present. Obviously now it is up to me to update myself on the matter, listen, talk, consult. For now, I have to tell you that I don’t think there isn’t something good in this German “movement”. Once Cardinal Ladaria told me that he hoped there was some heretic who would force us to deepen our faith.

    Q- In 2021 this Dicastery affirmed that homosexual couples cannot be blessed, do you agree?

    R-Look, just as I am firmly against abortion (and I challenge you to find someone in Latin America who has written more articles against abortion than I have), I also understand that “marriage” in the strict sense is only one thing: that stable union of two beings as different as male and female, who in that difference are capable of generating new life. There is nothing that can be compared to that and using that name to express something else is not good or correct. At the same time, I believe that gestures or actions that may express something different should be avoided. That is why I think that the greatest care that must be taken is to avoid rites or blessings that could feed this confusion. Now, if a blessing is given in such a way that it does not cause that confusion, it will have to be analyzed and confirmed. As you will see,

“The doctrine does not change”

    Q-For you, is the doctrine something that can change or has to be kept intact as it has been received for hundreds of years?

    R-The doctrine does not change, because it is ultimately the unfathomable, marvelous and immutable mystery of the Trinity expressed in Christ. Everything is there, and that cannot be improved or changed. There is nothing to add to it. Another thing is our understanding of that doctrine, and that in fact has changed and will continue to change. That is why in Dei Verbum it is said, for example, that the work of exegetes can mature the opinion of the Church.

    Q-These days the book you wrote entitled ‘Heal me with your mouth’ is being highly commented. The art of kissing’, do you regret having written it?

    R-No. Any theologian, biblical scholar or writer knows that in order to interpret a text it is key to situate oneself clearly in front of its own genre and not ask it for what it cannot give. That is a book that I did together with a group of young people when I was a very young parish priest. And the theme of that book is deeply conservative. Do you know why? Because I responded to the concern of these young people – very well trained by me – to learn to explain to other young people why premarital relations should be avoided. Look what progress was the objective of the book.

    Well, talking and talking it occurred to us to emphasize that sex is not everything, that if one postpones it, one can develop many other forms of expression of love and grow in that love. So, as an example of one of those expressions of affection that can be without having to get to sex, there was the kiss. So, together with them, we surveyed other young people, we looked for poems and we put together this catechism. It was not a Theology manual, it was a pastoral attempt that I will never regret. Of course I would not write something like that today, I am already 60 years old and I am beginning to prepare for eternal life. In fact, shortly thereafter I asked the publisher not to reprint it. Doesn’t it seem rude to you to take that little book, to use individual phrases from that youth pastoral booklet to judge me as a theologian?

    Q-Finally, your appointment has generated controversy in some ecclesial circles that fear that you could carry out a task far removed from what should be the Prefect of the Department of the Doctrine of the Faith, what would you say to those who do not see favorably eyes his appointment?

    R-These tasks can also be reconfigured, and the Pope has the right to give them another face. Doesn’t it seem right to you that at some point in history a Latin American who has been a parish priest in the peripheries should occupy that position, who has grown up in a small town in the interior, with a sensitivity close to the pain of those discarded by society, with a history of life very different from that of a European or American, but who at the same time is a doctor of Theology? Once again, I tell him that I will learn from history, I will respect the processes, I will dialogue, but I will do it “in my own way.”

    [End InfoVaticana Article]

    EXCLUSIVE: Cardinal Müller reacts to Pope Francis’ new appointment to Vatican’s Doctrine chief (link)

    Former CDF Prefect Cdl. Gerhard Müller fielded LifeSite’s questions about the import of the Pope’s new appointment at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    Tue Jul 4, 2023 – 11:55 am EDT

    VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The following is an interview Cardinal Gerhard Müller gave to LifeSiteNews via email, responding to the recent news of Archbishop Victor Fernández’s nomination to become the new prefect of the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

    LifeSiteNews reported the announcement on July 1, outlining Archbishop Fernández’s controversial stance on a number of issues, such as on the reception of Holy Communion for the divorced and re-married, the promotion of Amoris Laetitia, and his writings on sexuality.

    Cardinal Müller served as Prefect of the CDF from 2012 through 2017, at which time Pope Francis replaced him with Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J.

    The following interview has been slightly edited for clarity in its English translation, and is presented in its entirety.

    Michael Haynes: Your Eminence, you have gone on record previously calling some of Archbishop Fernández’s statements “heretical.” What danger does he pose now as head of the CDF, especially given his writing and promotion of Amoris Laetitia as opening Communion to the divorced and ‘re-married’?

    Cardinal Gerhard Müller: The decision as to who will become prefect of the principal congregation (or dicastery) that directly assists the Roman Pontiff in his universal magisterium belongs to the Holy Father alone. He must also answer for it in his conscience before Christ, the Lord and Head of His Church. This does not exclude the concern of many bishops, priests, and faithful throughout the world. They have the right to freely express their concerns (Lumen gentium 37).

    The opinion, which I criticized at that time, that any diocese could become the seat of Peter’s successor, is already directly qualified by the Fathers of Vatican I as a heretical contradiction to the revealed faith in 2nd canon of the Constitution “Pastor aeternus” (Denzinger- Hünermann 3058). The concept that the “the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church” (Lumen gentium 22), i.e. the plenitudo potestatis, has nothing at all to do with the unlimited command of secular potentates who refer to a higher power.

    The Church of the Triune God also does not need a new foundation or modernization, as if she had become a dilapidated house and as if weak men could surpass the divine master builder. She is already historically established in Christ once for all and perfectly conceived in its doctrine, constitution and liturgy in God’s plan of salvation.

    In the Holy Spirit, she continually serves people as the sacrament of the world’s salvation. Her teaching is not a program to be improved and updated by men, but the faithful and complete witness of the eschatological revelation of God in his incarnate Son “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).

    The task of the dicastery, in the service of the papal magisterium, is to show how the doctrine of the faith is biblically founded, how it has developed in the history of dogma, and how its content is expressed in an authoritative way by the magisterium. The religious obedience owed by all Catholics to the universal episcopate, and especially to the Pope, refers only to the supernatural truths of the doctrine of faith and morals (including the natural truths in ontology, epistemology, and ethics, which are the presuppositions of the knowability of the Word of God in our human minds).

    The Pope and bishops cannot demand obedience for their private opinions, and certainly not for teachings and actions that would contradict revelation and the natural moral law. This was declared already in 1875 by the German bishops against the misinterpretation of the teachings of Vatican I by the German Chancellor Bismarck. Pope Pius IX expressly agreed with this (Denzinger-Hünermann 3115; 3117).

    The Pope and bishops are bound to Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition and by no means sources of additional revelation or of revelation which supposedly needs to be adjusted to be in accord with the present state of science.

    The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, in view of their office and the importance of the matter, by fitting means diligently strive to inquire properly into that revelation and to give apt expression to its contents; but a new public revelation they do not accept as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith.(divinum depositum fidei). (Lumen Gentium 25).

    Haynes: Archbishop Fernández has also argued that sexual relations between cohabiting couples are not always sinful. What danger does this pose for him to hold such a position in the CDF?

    Cdl. Müller: Invoking the original will of the Creator, Jesus himself termed divorce and “remarriage” as adultery in discussions with the hard-hearted Pharisees, who made the argument about the reality of life of their contemporaries and an inability to fulfill God’s commandments (Mt 19:9).

    All grave sin excludes us from the kingdom of God until it is repented of and forgiven (1 Cor 6:10). God’s mercy consists in reconciling the repentant sinner back to Himself through Jesus Christ. In no way can we justify ourselves with reference to our fragility, to persist in sin, that is, in fatal contradiction to the holy and sanctifying will of God.

    Something quite different is the pastorally sensitive treatment of the many people whose marriages and families have been damaged or broken due to their own fault or the fault of others. However, the Church does not have the authority to relativize the revealed truths about the unity of marriage (monogamy), its indissolubility and its fruitfulness (acceptance of children as a gift of God). Good pastoral care is based on good dogmatics, because only a good tree with healthy roots also produces good fruit.

    Haynes: Archbishop Fernandez has stated how “in many issues I am far more progressive than the Pope.” As former prefect of the CDF, what advice would you give to Archbishop Fernandez so that he can safely protect the doctrines of the faith?

    Cdl. Müller: In Latin America, the Church has lost half of its members. In synodal Germany, more than 500,000 Catholics have publicly renounced their communion with the Church in 2022 alone. Everywhere, seminaries are empty, monasteries are closing, and the process of dechristianization of the Americas and Europe is driven in a sophisticated and violent manner by anti-clerical “elites.”

    Only a fool can speak of a springtime in the Church and a new Pentecost. The praise of the mainstream media for the progressive reformers has not yet been reflected in a turning of people to faith in Jesus Christ. For it is in the Son of the living God alone that they can place their hope in living and dying.

    To think here still in the old cultural-theoretical categories of “progressive/liberal and conservative,” or to classify the believers on the political scale from “right to left,” is already criminally naive.

    What matters is not where we place ourselves on the ideological spectrum, but whether we “render to the God revealed in Christ the ‘obedience of faith’ and willingly assent to his revelation.” We do not orient ourselves to men and their ideologies, but to the Son of God, who alone can say of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6).

    Whether my advice is desired by the addressees in question is doubtful. As for the Church’s doctrine of the true and salvific faith, and what the prefect and his dicastery are obligated to do in light of the universal magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, we prefer to let the Fathers of Vatican II say: “To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving ‘joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it.’ To bring about an ever deeper understanding of revelation the same Holy Spirit constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts.” (Dei verbum 5).

    [End LifeSite article]

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