He pointed him in charge of the Doctrine of the Faith, the most important ministry of the Church, and he will move to the Holy See in September. The resistance of the conservatives.
More than ten years after being elected Pope, Jorge Bergoglio has just made the move most daring of his pontificate in terms of pointments. He put in charge of the most important Vatican ministry for the internal affairs of the Church a faithful interpreter of the cultural revolution that progressively carries forward based on showing a more open and less condemnatory Catholicism. A cultural revolution that had the greatest expressions, not the only ones, in the opening to divorced Catholics in a new union and to gays.
But not only did he choose a faithful interpreter of his thought – in fact, he has always collaborated in the drafting of several of his documents-, but also a young clergyman for a position as relevant as being prefect of the congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -he is 60 years old-, which, in principle, ensures a long management. On the other hand, he chose an Argentine of his greatest confidence, who became the first compatriot to hold a position in the Roman curia: the Archbishop of La Plata, Victor “Tucho” Fernandez.
The personal letter that Francisco sent to Monsignor Fernandez on the occasion of his pointment confirms the line that the new prefect will follow. For now, he reminds him that the ministry he will be in charge of “in other times he came to use immoral methods”. It was the infamous Holy Office that carried out the gruesome inquisition. “Those were times where more than promoting theological knowledge was they pursued possible doctrinal errors. What I expect from you is undoubtedly something very different, ”she tells him.
The “different” thing that the Pope expects from Fernandez is that he dedicate himself less control and more promotion of the doctrine.
Because although it reminds him that his main task is to “keep the faith”, he must add the task of “increasing intelligence and the transmission of the faith at the service of evangelization, so that its light is a criterion for understanding the meaning of the faith.” existence, especially in the face of the questions raised by the progress of science and the development of society.
In other words, Francis tells him that he must project the teachings of the Church in the new realities and sensibilities in a world of rid change. And as a recommendation, he points out a challenge that synthesizes the religious profile of his pontificate: “We need – he affirms – a thought that knows how to convincingly present a God who loves, who forgives, who saves, who liberates, who promotes people and summons them to fraternal service”.
For such a task, Francisco informed him that his ministry should no longer deal with the trials of clergy members accused of having committed sexual abuse since it has just been constitute a specific court. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had been the final instance of the processes that began in the diocese to which the accused belonged, which distracted it to a large extent from its central mission.
“Tucho” Fernandez arrives with a rich religious and academic baggage. He was parish priest of the “Santa Teresita” Church, in his native Rio Cuarto; dean of the Faculty of Theology of Buenos Aires; president of the Argentine Society of Theology and rector of the UCA. Currently, he is archbishop of La Plata – he has a good dialogue with the governor Axel Kicillof and the mayor, Julio Garro– and is president of the Episcopate’s Faith and Culture Commission.
He was also an expert -pointed by Benedict XVI- of the V Conference of Latin American Bishops that was held in 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil, on which occasion he collaborated with then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in the elaboration of the meeting document since the archbishop Buenos Aires had been elected president of the drafting commission.
But the most significant antecedent of Fernandez is that for years the Vatican blocked confirmation of his pointment as rector of the UCA by the pressure from conservative sectors who questioned his theological positions as unorthodox. However, Bergoglio -he was the great chancellor of the university- supported him until confirmation came.
For the rest, his affinity with Francisco caused him more than one criticism from political sectors. For example, he recently defended “the merit” of the cartoneros when trying to obtain resources, but Miguel Angel Pichetto accused him of “to vindicate the cartonero world and the homeland of Grabois” and that “we are lost with these priests of a classist Church”.
Now, Francisco elevated him to the top of the promotion of the doctrine. With which, added to the pointment of another young bishop, Monsignor Jorge Ignacio Garcia Cuerva, 55, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francisco seems to have closed a circle at the national and world level with a view to that transcends the profile of his pontificate.