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Then-Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández greets Pope Francis in 2019Facebook

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, the newly appointed head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has hit back at criticisms of his 1995 erotic work on kissing, arguing that one word in particular was mis-translated. 

In a shock announcement July 1, Pope Francis announced to the world that fellow Argentinian Archbishop Fernández would assume the role of Prefect of the CDF in mid-September.

READ: Pope appoints longtime ally and ghostwriter of Amoris Laetitia as new Vatican doctrine chief  

Fernández’s nomination to the Vatican’s doctrinal department has caused instant consternation amongst faithful Catholics, particularly given his role as ghost-writer of the controversial Amoris Laetitia and his widespread heterodox theological views. LifeSiteNews has reported on Fernández’s positions regarding Holy Communion for the divorced and “re-married,” along with his downplaying of the Church’s theological orthodoxy in favor of “progressive” views.

Among the most controversial of Fernández’s writings is his 1995 book “Heal me with your mouth: The art of kissing,” still available in English online, but not included in Fernández’s official CV provided by the Vatican. The work is notable due to its inclusion of unmistakably erotic and often ambiguous sexual relationships in which the genders of the participants are unspecified. 

The book also contains various photos of statues and artworks depicting people passionately kissing and embracing one another in intimate and erotic positions, while the text itself is repeatedly sexually suggestive and explicit.

Responding to criticism made by faithful Catholics in recent days against the work, Fernández issued a public statement online. 

He referred to un-named “groups opposed to Francis who are enraged, and who go so far as to use unethical means to harm me.” 

For example, for years they have been referring to a little book of mine that no longer exists, which spoke about the kiss. I was inspired by a phrase from the time of the Fathers of the Church who said that the incarnation was like a kiss from God to humanity.

Fernández defended his authoring of the book, stating that it was born out of his desire as a young parish priest to “reach out to young people.” 

Then it occurred to me to write a catechesis for teenagers based on the meaning of the kiss. I wrote this catechesis with the participation of a group of young people who contributed ideas, phrases, poems, etc… Well, what these extreme groups do is to say: ‘Look at the low quality of this theologian, look at the nonsense he wrote, look at the low level he has.’ They have been humiliating me for years now with quotes from that book.

Such criticism, he argued, was unfounded since “a catechesis of a parish priest for teenagers cannot be asked to be a manual of Theology.”

Fernández thus argued that his work – which was, in his own words, inspired by the words of the Fathers about the Incarnation – should not be viewed as a comprehensive theological treatment. However, by 1995 he had already completed a post-ordination doctorate in theology, after having completed a prior post-ordination degree with a Scriptural focus. 

He singled out one passage which has been widely shared on social media since the July 1 nomination, in which he writes: “How was God so cruel as to give you that mouth… There is no one who resists me, bitch, hide it.”

“Worse still, since these attacks come from Catholics in the United States, and they do not know Spanish, they mistranslate one of the poems in the book,” Fernández argued. “They translate the word ‘witch’ as ‘bitch.’ But the book says ‘witch.’ They have no right to change my words. It seems they have no ethics for this, and it’s not the first time they do it to me.”

Addressing his supporters, Fernández stated that his critics would “ally themselves with whomever they can to attack Francisco [Pope Francis] for having named me. But those who have known me closely know who I am. Thank you for the trust and affection you have always shown me.”

While the incoming prefect of the Vatican’s highest office defended one particular passage from criticisms, he did not address the wider subject of the book itself, nor the numerous highly erotic passages contained within. Among his arguments in the text are numerous of his own lines of erotic poetry, such as: 

That’s why you don’t ask that it happens to my mouth. Kill me already with your next kiss, bleed me to death, she-wolf. Give me back my peace without mercy (Tucho).

However, such lines do not appear to have caused Pope Francis any qualms before appointing his long-time friend and theological advisor to the CDF. Indeed, speaking over the weekend, Fernández denoted the special favor with which the Pope was treating him ahead of his arrival to Rome: 

Once I said yes, last week Francisco asked me to go see a little house he had chosen me to live in, inside the Vatican, with a terrace and view of the garden. He said to me: ‘Because you come from Rio Fourth, from the countryside, and you need a broad view, look at the green.’ Indeed, if I open the window and all I see is buildings, I feel suffocated. But I tell you this so that you may see the sensitivity and exquisite charity of Francisco.

While Fernández has defended himself over one particular word, his wider ecclesiastical career promoting and accepting heterodoxy remains unopposed by Pope Francis and the court of Casa Santa Martha.