Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández  

By Vatican News

Jul 3 2023

Pope Francis pens a letter to Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández who succeeds Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer as Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith asking him to promote impetus for the transmission of the faith in the service of evangelization.

In a letter to the new Prefect of the Dicastery for the Faith (DDF), Pope Francis said he entrusts him with a task he considers very valuable.

Its central purpose, he wrote, is to guard the teaching that flows from the faith in order to give a reason for our hope, but not as enemies who point out and condemn.

With these words, the Pope reached out to Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández as he succeeds Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer as Prefect of the DDF, whom he thanked for his years at the helm of the Dicastery.

Appointment

The Archbishop, who was appointed as Prefect of the DDF on Saturday, 1 July, will also serve as president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

Argentinean Archbishop Fernández, until now Archbishop of La Plata (Argentina), will take up his duties in mid-September 2023.

Noting that the Dicastery in the past, at times pursued possible doctrinal errors and questionable methods, he underscored the fact that what he expects from the new leadership is something very different.

The Holy Father noted that the new Prefect has long been valued for his theological charisma in his posts as dean of the Faculty of Theology of Buenos Aires, president of the Argentinean Society of Theology, president of the Faith and Culture Commission of the Argentinean Episcopate, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, where he said, he encouraged a healthy integration of knowledge.

What’s more, having served as parish priest of “Santa Teresita” and Archbishop of La Plata, the Pope expressed his confidence the Archbishop is very capable of bringing theological knowledge into dialogue with the life of the holy People of God.

Protection of Minors

The Pope highlighted the establishment of a specific Section in the Holy See dedicated to the protection of minors and asked the new Prefect to commit personally and directly to the main purpose of the Dicastery which is “to guard the faith”.

He asked him to give more momentum to the transmission of the faith in the service of evangelisation, so that its light, he said, may be a criterion for understanding the meaning of existence, especially in the face of the questions raised by the progress of science and the development of society.

An unprecedented context for humanity

He encouraged a renewed proclamation of the Gospel message, and called on the Dicastery to become an instrument of evangelisation, helping the Church to enter into conversation with the people of the world in a context that is unprecedented for the history of humanity.

The Church, Pope Francis continued, needs to grow in her interpretation of the revealed Word and in her understanding of the truth, without imposing a single way of expressing it.

A harmonious growth nurtured by respect and love, he said, will preserve Christian doctrine more effectively than any control mechanism.

No desk theology

The Holy Father went on to call for theologians who do not content themselves with “a desk theology” or a cold and hard logic that seeks to dominate everything.

We need theology to be attentive to a fundamental criterion that considers “inadequate” any theological conception that ultimately casts doubt on God’s omnipotence and, in particular, on his mercy.

We need a way of thinking, he continued, that presents a God who loves, forgives, saves, liberates, and promotes people and calls them to fraternal service.

Thus, the Pope asked the new Prefect to encourage a proclamation that concentrates on the essential, which is the most beautiful, the greatest, the most attractive and at the same time the most necessary, and he warned him against overshadowing central issues with secondary ones.

Concluding, Pope Francis invited Archbishop Fernández to always make sure that the documents of his Dicastery, and of the others, have adequate theological support, are coherent with the rich humus of the perennial teaching of the Church and at the same time accept the recent Magisterium. – Vatican News