A new report asks if Pope’s signature on a recent, controversial document (the entire text of the document, and the signatures, are below) is a “photo-shopped insertion” rather than an actual papal signature.

    How and why did this happen?

    (See this link for the original report which sparked this letter… it is in Croatian — which I do not read — and it was then picked up by an Italian journalist, and it is this second article, which I have translated below.)

    I am not an expert in “photo-shopping,” but the signature of the Pope on the document, dated October 31, does seem to be photo-shopped, so I am sending out this letter, based on these two reports, in the hope that this odd occurrence may soon be explained.

    Perhaps the Vatican should issue a clarification? —RM


    Two reports, one in Croatian and one in Italian based on the Croatian report, are questioning the authenticity of the Pope’s signature on a recent October 31 document stating that gay and transgender people may be Godparents at baptisms and participate in other Church sacraments.

    These two interesting pieces of sleuthing raise questions about the signatures on the note issued by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on October 31, signed by both Pope Francis and the prefect, Argentine Cardinal Victor Fernández (nicknamed “Tucho”), stating that transgender and homosexual people can take part in the Sacraments, with certain qualifications.

    One of the pieces was published yesterday on a Catholic website in Croatia (see this link) and the other today on the Italian website La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana (The New Daily Compass).    

    Although most doctrinal analysts seem to be arguing that the qualifications in the Note are still in line with previous Vatican refusal to allow actively transgender Godparents, some who hold the view that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality must be revised — for example, Francis DeBernardo, co-founder of New Ways Ministry — are claiming that this October 31 Note proves that the Catholic Church can — and does — change its mind about certain practices and policies.

    The thesis of the author of the Italian November 15 article, Luisella Scrosati, is that the signatures on the official copy of the document appear to be merely “copied and pasted” rather than actually signed by the parties to whom the document is attributed — namely, Pope Francis and Cardinal Fernández.

    Luisella Scrosati’s article is below, followed by an image of the document — and the signatures — in question, so you can see for yourself.

    Also following is an unsigned piece from April 15, 2018, which appeared on the website of the Society of St. Pius X, handily summarizing a previous bit of digital manipulation at the Vatican, similarly involving a note from a Pope — this time Benedict XVI.

    The Vatican official involved, the prefect of the Holy See Secretariat for Communications, Fr. Dario Viganò, abruptly resigned after the incident.

    [End, introductory note]

    Signature with copy-and-paste: Cardinal Tucho’s latest imbroglio(an Italian word meaning “scam”) (link)

    By Luisella Scrosati (lanuovabq.it)

    The signatures of the Pope and the Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith on the answers regarding the admission of gays and trans people to the sacraments are not authentic, but taken from another poorly scanned sheet of paper. With the new management at the Dicastery, one oversight leads to another.

    November 15, 2023

    Readers will remember the barbed figure that Fr. Dario Edoardo Viganò made in the spring of 2018, when he only partially published the famous letter that Benedict XVI wrote on the occasion of the 11-volume series on the theology of Pope Francis.

    As chance would have it, it was precisely the paragraph in which the Pope Emeritus rejected any collaboration, stating, in his own style, that he did not have enough time to read those publications.

    The omission concerned the entire second page of the letter, while the last two lines of the first — a new paragraph that Ratzinger began with “however, I don’t feel like writing about them” — appeared deliberately blurred and illegible. Then it was a scandal and rightly so: Viganò had to submit his resignation and Pope Francis found him a home, creating the ad hoc office of councilor for the Dicastery of Communication for him.

    However, that was a minor tampering compared to the one engineered by someone from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Croatian website Vjera i djela, in an article by Snježana Majdandžić-Gladić, reveals a disturbing detail, which readers will then be able to verify for themselves. In the responses to some questions from Msgr. José Negri of last November 3, the signature of the Pope and that of Cardinal Fernández himself are not authentic.

    “Just download the PDF to your computer and click on the signature at the end, and you will see that it is a poorly scanned and cut image, simply pasted over the text written in Word, and not a scanned document that the Pope actually signed,” explains Majdandžić-Gladić.

    Seeing is believing. Whether it is a copy and paste of a scan can also be verified by enlarging the signature: you will easily notice the graininess of the image pasted there.

    A sensational “oversight” by Fernández, who, apparently, not only writes in full autonomy everything he wants, but now also inaugurates the do-it-yourself approach to the Pope’s signatures.

    Why did he or whoever did it for him? It is not clear and, continues the Croatian journalist, “it is not yet known whether the Pope’s signature was inserted on something else that he approved that day, or whether the Response was completely falsified, perhaps without the Pope’s knowledge.”

    Not that there is any doubt that the Pope substantially agrees with what Fernández wrote, but it is, at the very least, a question of decency, with undeniable legal implications. Is forging a signature in a public document also a crime in the Vatican? That document, among other things, also loses its official value in addition to the fact that, as we wrote, the content is more than questionable.

    Is Fernández an apprentice forger? That, not satisfied with tampering with the texts cited in the documents he wrote, adulterating the meaning and cutting out the paragraphs (see here and here), now he also starts forging the signatures? Be that as it may, he remains an apprentice, because the various manipulations are not so subtle as to go unnoticed.

    Is it too much to demand an official clarification on the issue? There are several questions that await an adequate and public answer: from which other document of 31 October 2023 was the signature of the Pope and Fernández scanned? This is another version of the responses to Msgr. Negri or a completely different document? For what reason was this operation done? Who ordered it and who knew about it?

    Given the ease of falsification in the circles of the Dicastery starting from 1 July, why not declassify the Note of 21 December 2018, which the Prefect recalled at the opening of the aforementioned document as proof of the continuity of this pronouncement with what the CDF would have stated in past? And why not also publish the original of the questions of the bishop of Santo Amaro, as was done for the dubia of the five cardinals?

    But the points to clarify do not end here.

    Since “Tucho” was placed at the head of the DDF, the documents transcribed and translated into different languages ​​never appear on the Dicastery’s website, as usual, but only the PDF versions of previous Word files. For what reason? Cutting staff?

    Majdandžić-Gladić also points out that “from 1 July 2023 the documents of the Dicastery no longer have an official coat-of-arms in the header, furthermore they have neither header, nor order number, nor other usual official references, but they are regularly texts that do not differ from any other private letter, except for the final signature of the Pope and the Prefect.”

    And again from the beginning of Fernández’s management, as we have already had the opportunity to point out, other significant characteristics have disappeared: the reference to a possible Ordinary or Plenary Session of the Dicastery with respective date has disappeared, as has the joint signature of the Prefect and the Secretary, elements that lead to the suspicion that Tucho is acting practically alone; no wording indicating that the Pope approved the document and ordered its publication, no usual final wording “Given in Rome, by the Headquarters of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, on dd/mm/yy, Memorial/Feast/Solemnity of NN.”

    Is it possible to know the reasons for these now repeated omissions?

    To understand how low Ratzinger’s Dicastery has fallen, it is enough to take a look at the errors in the response to Cardinal Duka: “Giovani Paolo II” (one “n” is missing in “Giovanni”) in note 4 and “Benetdetto XVI” in the next (the correct spelling is “Benedetto” without the “t” in the middle); “Amoris laetitia” is in italics, while “Mitis iudex” is in regular text, not italics; non-uniform note criteria; and quotation marks that open but do not close.

    Of course we can all make mistakes, but when it comes to official documents more revisions of the text are a must. Another clue that evidently this review did not take place and that Fernández was put in the team to act alone. The problem is that he is not Maradona.*

    (Diego Maradona was one of Argentina’s most talented soccer players.—Ed.)

    [End La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana link]

    Text of Vatican Note on Homosexual and Transgender People’s Participation in the Sacraments — English (link)

    On July 14, 2023, this Dicastery received a letter from H.E. Msgr. José Negri, Bishop of Santo Amaro in Brazil, containing some questions regarding the possible participation in the sacraments of baptism and marriage by transgender and homoaffective persons. After a study in this regard, this Department responded as follows.

    Dicastery responses to H.E. Msgr. Negri

    The following responses reiterate, for the most part, the basic contents of what, already in the past, has been stated on this subject by this Department(1).

    1. Can a transsexual be baptized? 

    A transsexual-who had also undergone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery-can receive baptism, under the same conditions as other believers, if there are no situations in which there is a risk of generating public scandal or disorientation among the faithful. In the case of children or adolescents with transgender issues, if well prepared and willing, they can receive Baptism. At the same time, the following should be considered, especially when there are doubts about the objective moral situation a person is in, or about his or her subjective dispositions toward grace. In the case of Baptism, the Church teaches that when the sacrament is received without repentance for grave sins, the subject does not receive sanctifying grace, although he or she does receive sacramental character. The Catechism states, “This configuration to Christ and the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible; it remains forever in the Christian as a positive disposition to grace, as a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and service to the Church.”(2).

    St. Thomas Aquinas taught, in fact, that when the impediment to grace disappears, in someone who has received Baptism without the right dispositions, the character itself “is an immediate cause that disposes one to receive grace.”(3).

    St. Augustine of Hippo recalled this situation by saying that even if a man falls into sin, Christ does not destroy the character received by him in Baptism and seeks (quaerit) the sinner, in whom this character is imprinted that identifies him as his property(4).

    Thus we can understand why Pope Francis wanted to emphasize that baptism “is the door that allows Christ the Lord to settle in our person and us to immerse ourselves in his Mystery.”(5). This concretely implies that “not even the doors of the Sacraments should be closed for any reason. This is especially true when it comes to that sacrament which is “the door,” Baptism […] the Church is not a customs house, it is the paternal home where there is room for each person with his or her labored life.” (6).

    Then, even when doubts remain about a person’s objective moral situation or about his or her subjective dispositions toward grace, one should never forget this aspect of the faithfulness of God’s unconditional love, which is capable of generating even with the sinner an irrevocable covenant, always open to development, also unpredictable. This is true even when a purpose of amendment does not appear in a fully manifest way in the penitent, because often the predictability of a new fall “does not undermine the authenticity of the purpose.”(7).

    In any case, the Church should always call to live out fully all the implications of baptism received, which must always be understood and deployed within the entire journey of Christian initiation.

    2. Can a transgender person be a godparent or godmother?

    Under certain conditions, an adult transsexual who had also undergone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery may be admitted to the task of godfather or godmother. However, since such a task does not constitute a right, pastoral prudence demands that it should not be allowed if there is a danger of scandal, undue legitimization or disorientation in the educational sphere of the church community.

    3. Can a transgender person be a witness at a wedding?

    There is nothing in current universal canon law that prohibits a transgender person from being a witness in a marriage.

    4. Can two homo-affective persons figure as parents of a child, who must be baptized, and who was adopted or obtained by other methods such as surrogacy?

    For the child to be baptized there must be a well-founded hope that he or she will be educated in the Catholic religion (cf. can. 868 § 1, 2o CIC; can. 681, § 1, 1o CCEO).

    5. Can a person who is homo-affective and cohabiting be godfather to a baptized person? 

    According to canon 874 § 1, 1o and 3o CIC, anyone who possesses the aptitude (cf. 1o) and “leads a life in conformity with the faith and with the office he or she assumes” (3o; cf. can. 685, § 2 CCEO) can be a godparent. Different is the case where the cohabitation of two homo-affective persons consists, not in a simple cohabitation, but in a stable and declared more uxorio relationship, well known to the community.

    In any case, due pastoral prudence demands that every situation be wisely weighed, in order to safeguard the sacrament of baptism and especially its reception, which is a precious good to be protected, since it is necessary for salvation(8).

    At the same time, it is necessary to consider the real value the church community places on the duties of godparents and godmothers, the role they play in the community, and the consideration they show toward the teaching of the Church.

    Finally, the possibility that there may be another person from the family circle to act as guarantor of the proper transmission of the Catholic faith to the baptizing person should also be taken into account, knowing that one can still assist the baptizing person, during the rite, not only as godfather or godmother but, also, as witnesses to the baptismal act.

    6. Can a person who is homo-affective and cohabiting be a witness in a marriage? 

    There is nothing in current universal canon law that prohibits a homo-affective, cohabiting person from being a witness to a marriage.


    1 Cf. CONGREGAZIONE PER LA DOTTRINA DELLA FEDE, Confidential note about some canonical questions concerning transsexualism (December 21, 2018), Vatican City, Sub secreto pontificio.

    2 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1121.

    3 SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, I Sent IV, 4,3,2,3: “est inmediata causa disponens ad gratiam”; IDEM, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 69 a. 9 ad 1: “Et sic omnes induunt Christum per configurationem characteris, non autem per conformitatem gratiae” (“And in this sense all are clothed with Christ by configuration to him by character, not already by grace”).

    4 Cf. SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HYPONA, Sermo ad Caesariensis Ecclesiae Plebem, 2; PL 43, 691-692: “Nunc vero ipse desertor, characterem fixit imperatoris sui. Deus et Dominus noster Jesus Christus quaerit desertorem, delet erroris criminem, sed non exterminat suum characterem.” 2

    5 FRANCIS, General Audience (April 11, 2018), available online at (link).

    6 FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, on the proclamation of the gospel in today’s world (Nov. 24, 2013), no. 47.

    7 JOHN PAUL II, Letter to Card. William W. Baum on the occasion of the course on the internal forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary (March 22, 1996), 5: Insegnamenti XIX, 1 [1996], 589. 3

    8 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1

    And here is an article about the 2018 controversy over a book of essays prepared on Pope Francis‘s theology which contained an essay by a theologian who had always been very critical of Pope Benedict XVI.

    A Near-perfect Deception at the Vatican — Made with Photoshop (link)

    What was intended as a promotional campaign for 11 booklets published by the Vatican Publishing House highlighting certain aspects of Pope Francis’ theology, turned into a nightmare for the Holy See Secretariat for Communications. The story of an almost perfect crime, in five acts.

    By FSSPX.news

    Act 1. The Prefect Calls on the Pope Emeritus

    On January 12, 2018, the prefect of the Holy See Secretariat for Communications, Monsignor Dario Viganò, wrote to the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI asking for a “short and dense theological page” promoting eleven booklets from various theologians that offer a positive view of Pope Francis’ theology.

    On February 7, Benedict XVI responded on two sheets of paper slipped into an envelope marked “confidential and personal,” according to Vaticanist Andrea Tornielli, who adds that those closest to Joseph Ratzinger formally advised against making this letter public.

    Act 2. The Prefect, in His Elation, Mentions the Letter to the International Press

    On March 12, the eve of the 5th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, Mgr. Viganò saw fit to ignore the confidentiality of the letter, and read to journalists a passage in which the Pope Emeritus said he approved

    …this initiative that wants to oppose and react to the senseless prejudice that Pope Francis would be a purely practical man, deprived of a particular theological or philosophical formation, while I would have been only a theology theorist who would not have Including much of a Christian’s concrete life today. 

    And Benedict XVI went on:

    These booklets demonstrate that the pope is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and, therefore, this helps see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences of style and temperament. 

    These remarks, relayed “urbi et orbi” seemed to support the idea of a profound continuity between the two pontificates, without the slightest rift…

    Act 3. Sleuths Sense a Manipulation

    The next day, Vaticanist Sandro Magister echoed a certain unease shared by the international press: in the photo sent to the journalists on March 12, the last two lines of the first page were blurred, and the entire text of the second page, except for the signature, was hidden by the pile of the 11 booklets.

    The Associated Press, owner of the copyright for the photograph, voiced its surprise at this procedure, saying it went “against its code of ethics.”

    On March 13, in response to these protests, the Vatican published an enriched, supposedly “full”, text of the letter, in which Benedict XVI said he only writes about books he has read, and he has more important things to do than read these ones. And the text ends with: “I am sure you will understand, and cordially greet you.”

    But journalistic frauds are like trains passing each other; one fraud may hide another as it goes by…

    Act 4. The Art of Confessing One’s Faults

    Four days later, on March 17, Sandro Magister – him again! – remarked on his blog Settimo Cielo, that the surprising position of the signature on the second page leads to believe that the preceding text is a good deal longer than what was published, and that according to “incontrovertible” sources, from “those close to Benedict XVI”, the hidden paragraph was actually a strong criticism of certain authors in the collection, known for their heterodox positions in the eyes of Catholic doctrine.

    A few hours later, the Holy See, “at Benedict XVI’s request”, according to the religious journalist for The Figaro, Jean-Marie Guénois, gave in and published the true full text of the letter, that expresses the astonishment – and even indignation – of the pope emeritus at being asked to praise one of the volumes written by a theologian who has violently attacked the magisterium. And the reader also learns, not without surprise, that in the last sentence, the word “refusal” had been removed: “I am sure you will understand my refusal.”

    The result was disastrous: so much for Mgr. Vigano’s praise of the continuity between the two pontificates!

    Act 5. The Tarpeian Cliff Execution Site: So Close to the Capitol Hill.

    On March 21, the guillotine of justice came down: the pope accepted Mgr. Dario Viganò’s “spontaneous” resignation from his charge as prefect of the Holy See Secretariat for Communications.

    It is clear that claiming there is an “interior continuity” between the two pontificates by means of a shamelessly manipulated letter, really only overexposes Benedict XVI and Francis, and risks opposing and discrediting them: it is Mgr. Viganò’s fault, and that is enough to disqualify him.

    And what discredit, too, for the Secretariat for Communications, and the Holy Father himself, who asked on January 24, 2018, in a message to journalists, that they “contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and to rediscovering the dignity of journalism!”

    “Making reforms in Rome is like cleaning the Egyptian Sphinx with a toothbrush,” joked the sovereign pontiff in his speech to the Roman Curia on December 21, 2017, warning them against

    …that unbalanced and debased mindset of plots and small cliques that in fact represent – for all their self-justification and good intentions – a cancer leading to a self-centredness. 

    The bi-millenary Tradition of the Church indisputably remains the best therapy for this sort of sickness…


    Sources: La Croix / Vatican Insider / La Vie / Famille Chrétienne / Le Figaro / Settimo Cielo / Vatican News / FSSPX.News – 3/22/2018

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