WelCom August 2023
In an unexpected and highly significant move, Pope Francis has appointed the Argentine theologian and archbishop Victor Manuel ‘Tucho’ Fernández as the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican has announced.
Archbishop Fernández, almost 61, will take up his new post in the middle of September. The prolific writer has been archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, since 2018. He has published more than 300 articles and books.
Pope Francis wrote a letter to the new prefect in which he told him, ‘As prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, I entrust to you a task that I consider invaluable. It has as its main purpose to safeguard the teaching that comes from the faith “to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 271).
‘The dicastery that you will preside over in other epochs came to use immoral methods. Those were times when more than promoting theological knowledge they chased after possible doctrinal errors. What I expect from you is something without doubt much different,’ Pope Francis said.
The dicastery, previously a Vatican congregation, was long known as ‘La Suprema’ among Vatican offices. It is entrusted with Catholic doctrine and discipline. Historically, particularly during the Inquisition but also in the 20th century, the congregation had a reputation for its free hand in censuring or silencing theologians, though under Francis its actions have been curtailed. The dicastery also oversees the majority of sex abuse cases referred to the Vatican, which today constitutes over 80 per cent of its work.
Archbishop Fernández is considered to be in harmony with the Pope at both the pastoral and theological levels. Pope Francis, who has known Fernández for decades, reportedly entrusted him with drafting his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. The archbishop was also reputedly involved in the drafting of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family.
He is also believed to be the author behind the 2016 papal exhortation God is Love. That exhortation discussed enabling divorced Catholics who remarry in civil ceremonies to receive Communion.
Sources: America, Catholic News Agency