Revolution From the Top in the Catholic Church

Pope Francis adds more radicals to top church positions: "No turning back."

By Joseph D'Hippolito Published on July 21, 2023

If personnel is policy, as corporate consultants proclaim, then two of Pope Francis’ most recent appointments reflect his goal to impose his vision on the Catholic Church at the expense of its remaining theological and moral credibility.

One is the new head of the Vatican’s highest theological body, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the new name for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The other, who is organizing next month’s World Youth Day, reinforces Francis’ globalist vision, which effectively denies the Gospel, as The Stream reported.

Both men will become part of the 21 new cardinals Francis will name in September. All but three will be eligible to vote in the next conclave that will choose Francis’ successor. Last August, the pope appointed another 21 to the College of Cardinals, 16 of whom could vote for the next pope.

Francis is laying the groundwork to make his revolution permanent.

The Kissing Theologian

Assuming the leadership of the newly re-named DDF is Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, who will take over in September after being appointed July 1. Fernandez, an Argentine like Francis, serves as the pope’s personal theological advisor.

Faithful Catholics objected, citing one of Fernandez’s more controversial works, Heal Me with Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing, which Fernandez wrote when he was 35, but already a priest. The book includes erotic poetry, including one example Fernandez wrote in which a man curses a woman for having a tempting mouth and warns her of his irresistibility. (The book is accessible here in English.) Fernandez described the book as “a pastor’s catechesis for teens.”

Breaking the Law, the Natural Law

But Fernandez’s influence goes far beyond third-rate erotica. DDF’s new prefect — a protege of Francis — played pivotal roles in drafting three papal documents: Evangelii Gaudium, which called for “ecclesial renewal which cannot be deferred,Laudato Si on environmental sustainability and Amoris Laetitia on marriage and family life. That last document advocated giving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, contradicting historic teaching. 

Amoris Laetitia paraphrased Fernandez’s writings from the previous decade, which embraced situational ethics and contradicted John Paul II’s encyclical Veritas Splendor. In 2017, the National Catholic Register reported “a recognized moral theologian who has seen the draft said he was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the text as it ‘calls into question the natural moral law.’ ”

The Vatican even investigated Fernandez’s views during Benedict XVI’s tenure. That delayed Fernandez’s appointment as rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina by two years — an appointment the future Pope Francis made as the archbishop of Buenos Aires. With Fernandez leading the DDF, the Catholic Church will accelerate its embrace of same-sex unions.

The Triumph of Papal Duplicity

As The Stream has often reported, Francis’ rhetoric against gender ideology contradicts his policy of promoting those who support it, including those who reject historic teaching. In Fernandez, the pope has the perfect ally to continue his hypocritical policy.

In a July 5 interview, the DDF’s new leader demonstrated his capacity for double-talk. On the one hand, Fernandez defended the traditional definition of marriage. “I also understand that ‘marriage’ in the strict sense is only one thing: that stable union of two beings as different as man and woman, who in that difference are capable of engendering new life,” he said. “There is nothing that can compare to that and using that name to express something else is neither good nor correct.”a

On the other hand, Fernandez allowed the possibility of blessing of same-sex unions: “At the same time, I think we should avoid gestures or actions that may express something different,” he said. “That is why I think the greatest care must be taken to avoid rites or blessings that can 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.” (Emphasis added)

That comment would contradict the CDF’s 2021 ruling that prohibited German bishops from blessing same-sex unions. Francis supported that ruling, as The Stream reported. But one LGBTQ activist said that Francis told him the pope failed to sign the ruling, and fired those responsible for it.

Explaining Away Scripture

Fernandez, again using double-talk, believes the ruling should be tailored to the pope’s views.

“I think that without contradicting what that document says, it would not be wrong to rethink it in the light of everything Francis has taught us,” he said. “Many say that as it is written, with some expressions it uses, it doesn’t smell like Francis.”

Then on July 14, Fernandez dismissed biblical prohibitions against homosexuality, much like three of Francis’ favorites: the Rev. James Martin, San Diego Cardinal Robert McElroy and Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, as The Stream has also often reported.

“There are biblical texts that should not be interpreted in a ‘material’ way; I do not mean ‘literal,’” Fernandez said in another interview. “This does not mean that they lose their content, but that they should not be taken completely at face value. Otherwise, we would have to obey St. Paul’s command that women cover their heads, for example.”

“All Are Saved.”

Perhaps more importantly, Fernandez embraces universalism, the idea that everybody will receive eternal salvation regardless of their faith or deeds, as The Stream has discussed. Universalism neuters the Gospel by making Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection irrelevant.

Yet the new prelate for the DDF said in a 1995 interview, “I rely firmly upon the truth that all are saved.” That “truth” appears in Amoris Laetitia, which Fernandez heavily influenced: “No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!”

A papal document ignoring Jesus’ constant warnings of eternal damnation effectively preaches a “new gospel.”

“We Don’t Want to Convert the Young People to Christ.”

Another of Francis’ new cardinals, Lisbon Archbishop Americo Aguiar, served as a Socialist member of a City Council before becoming ordained. He is planning next month’s World Youth Day in Portugal. And his vision statement for it shocked many: “We don’t want to convert the young people to Christ or to the Catholic Church or anything like that at all,” Aguiar said.

He went on:

We want it to be normal for a young Catholic Christian to say and bear witness to who he is or for a young Muslim, Jew, or of another religion to also have no problem saying who he is and bearing witness to it, and for a young person who has no religion to feel welcome and to perhaps not feel strange for thinking in a different way.

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Aguiar used Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti, “which the Pope has made a megalomanic [sic] effort to make echo in the hearts of all,” Aguiar said, as his justification.

The point, Aguiar added, is for each participant to realize “‘I think differently, I feel differently, I organize my life in a different way, but we are brothers and we go together to build the future,'” he said. “This is the main message of this encounter with the living Christ that the pope wants to provide to young people.”

That message has everything to do with diversity, inclusion and globalism — and nothing to do with sin, redemption or salvation. It’s a message Francis wants to use to redefine Catholicism, as Fernandez revealed in a 2015 interview:

“The pope goes slow because he wants to be sure that the changes have a deep impact,” he said. “He knows very well what he is doing. You have to realize that he is aiming at a reform that is irreversible. If one day he shuld intuit that he’s running out of time and he doesn’t have enough time to do what the Spirit is asking him, you can be sure he will speed up.”

No Turning Back from the Gadarene Cliff

At 86 and in poor health, Francis knows his time is short.

“If and when Francis is no longer pope, his legacy will remain strong,” Fernandez said. “For example, the pope is convinced that the things he’s already written or said cannot be condemned as an error. Therefore, in the future anyone can repeat those things without fear of being sanctioned. And then the majority of the People of God with their special sense will not easily accept turning back on certain things.”

In other words, the incoming head of the Vatican’s most important theological body expressed confidence that the pope’s revisionism will become the new orthodoxy. When asked if a successor will undo Francis’ work, Fernandez gave a blunt answer:

“No, there’s no turning back.”

 

Joseph D’Hippolito has written commentaries for such outlets as the Jerusalem Post, the American Thinker and Front Page Magazine. He works as a free-lance writer.

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