VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), confirmed that the office had a file on Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, whom Pope Francis appointed the new prefect of the same congregation (now dicastery), over concerns regarding his theological orthodoxy.
Both Müller and another senior Church official confirmed to the National Catholic Register the CDF’s file on Fernandez, which dates to 2009. At the time, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires appointed then-Father Fernández to become rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.
Müller, who served as prefect of the CDF from 2012 to 2017, told the Register on July 4 that Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, Secretary at the Congregation for Catholic Education, had drawn up the file when Bergoglio proposed Fernández as rector of the university. This was part of the ordinary process by which the CDF would judge whether the priest could be granted a nihil obstat, an official stamp of good standing required for such things as holding the post of rector of a Catholic university.
“The CDF is always involved in giving the last word,” Müller stated. “The Congregation for Catholic Education must therefore ask for the nihil obstat from the CDF, in giving the official yes, so the Church can be absolutely sure there isn’t anything problematic with such an appointment.”
Because the file raised concerns over the orthodoxy of some of Fernandez’s theological statements and positions, Cardinal William Levada, then prefect of the CDF, withheld the nihil obstat for a year and a half until it was judged that the concerns had been sufficiently resolved. This meant Fernández did not assume his office as rector until May 2011, a delay that angered Bergoglio at the time.
In comments offered to the Register on July 5, Archbishop Fernández attempted to downplay the doctrinal concerns raised by the CDF, saying they were “accusations” based on some of his theological writings that “were not of great weight.” Casting the episode as a misunderstanding on the part of Rome, he claimed that through an exchange of letters with the Vatican he “clarified” his “true thinking” and that “everything was resolved serenely.”
A few days earlier in a July 3 interview with the Argentine radio station Perfil, Fernández seemed to denigrate the role of the CDF — formerly called the Holy Office and the Inquisition — as the guardian and judge of the orthodoxy of Catholic theologians, teachers, priests, and bishops, remarking that it had “even investigated me.” The whole thing, he said, “was really very annoying.” He lamented that he “spent months on the nonsense.”
Two months after Pope Francis’ election to the papal throne, he was quick to elevate Fernández to the role of archbishop, but without following the ordinary protocol of informing the CDF, which was headed by Cardinal Müller at the time. As with the appointment of the rector of a Catholic university, the CDF ordinarily is tasked with examining a candidate for the episcopacy and issuing a nihil obstat for the sake of assuring the doctrinal orthodoxy of a man to whom the Church is about to entrust the teaching office of a successor of the Apostles.
Fernández will assume his new role as head of the Church’s doctrinal office in mid-September. His background includes the ardent promotion and defense of Amoris Laetitia opening the door to Communion for the divorced and “remarried,” the public promotion of erotic kissing and actions in a scandalous published book, downplaying the need to oppose same-sex marriage, questioning the gravity and sinfulness of sexual acts outside of marriage, and stating how he is more progressive than the Pope on certain issues.
Given the clear bent and heterodoxy of Fernandez’s positions on sexual morality and his appointment to the office tasked with defending Catholic doctrine, some have raised the question of whether he is attempting to undermine the Church from within, a clearly stated goal of Freemasonry. Fernandez responded in an interview with Crux in which he insisted that he was “not a Freemason, nor an ally of the New World Order, nor a Soros spy infiltrated in the Church,” a curious denial to say the least. Freemasonry has long been known to have infiltrated the walls of the Vatican with the goal of corrupting and destroying the Church from within. Fernandez may very well be the newest ally in that project.