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Cardinal José Tolentino de MendonçaScreenshot/Twitter

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – A Portuguese prelate was named by Pope Francis to lead the new Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education, having enjoyed a “meteoric” rise in the Curial ranks and been a consistent promoter of LGBT ideology.

On Monday, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça was appointed to become Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, a dicastery that was created in June under the terms of Praedicate Evangelium, which merged the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture. 

He has enjoyed a swift rise through the ranks of the Curia under the Francis pontificate. Previously vice rector of the Catholic University of Lisbon and rector of the Pontifical Portuguese College in Rome, he made a name for himself as an academic, a Biblical scholar and “priest-poet,” and was invited to lead Francis’ 2018 Lenten retreat. 

After that retreat, Francis thanked Mendonça for having “shown how [the Holy Spirit] works in non-believers, in ‘pagans,’ in people of other religious confessions” and that the Holy Spirit “is universal, it is the Spirit of God, which is for everyone. … Thank you for this call to open ourselves, without fear, without rigidity, to be pliable to the Spirit and not mummified in our structures that enclose us.”

Later in 2018, the Portuguese was made archivist and librarian of the Vatican’s Library and Secret Archives, and appointed bishop. Only one year later, he was raised to the College of Cardinals on October 5 at age 53. 

His curial duties were already numerous before his most recent promotion. In 2020, de Mendonça was made a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (now Dicastery for Evangelization) and in 2022 was made member of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints and of the Dicastery for Bishops.  

LGBT, homosexual support 

Commentators have suggested that de Mendonça’s meteoric rise is due to his alignment with Francis’ ideology, particularly on the subject of LGBT matters. 

As LifeSite has previously reported, de Mendonça worked in an LGBT “Catholic” ministry that served open homosexuals who were left to their own spiritual guidance. 

He told the Portuguese publication Publico in 2010 that “the Church isn’t a place of fullness, it’s a place of searching. Our condition is thirst and desire. It isn’t here and now that we realize our dreams. The Church is this common road, not exempt from imperfections, open to a kind of progressivity.” 

He added the Church must have an “unconditional” sense of “welcome and hospitality.” Indeed, he also contradicted the Church’s command of chastity for people with homosexual inclinations, saying it “is a proposal that cannot be imposed, but that is made. Each person who approaches the Church carries a sacred story and must be welcomed.”  

Before preaching the Pope’s 2018 Lenten retreat, in 2013 de Mendonça had made waves by publicly supporting a Spanish nun, Teresa Forcades, who campaigns for the legalization of abortion and the recognition of same-sex “marriage.” The BBC described her as “Europe’s most radical nun,” who became “one of Europe’s most influential left-wing public intellectuals.”

De Mendonça wrote the introduction to the Portuguese translation of Forcades’ “Feminist Theology in History,” in which he decried the Church’s theological language and stated that Christ did not leave any laws for men to follow.

“Teresa Forcades i Vila reminds of that which is essential: that Jesus of Nazareth did not codify, nor did he establish rules,” he wrote. “Jesus lived. That is, he constructed an ethos of relation, somatized the poetry of his message in the visibility of his flesh, expressed his own body as a premise.”

The now-cardinal defended Francis from the “conservative wing of the Church” whom he said were “willing to place traditionalism above the tradition.”

He also praised Pope Francis’ “welcoming” attitude toward those who are stubbornly living in gravely sinful situations of homosexuality and adultery, when he told an interviewer in 2016:

No one can be excluded from the love and mercy of Christ. And that experience of mercy has to be taken to everyone, whether they be Christians who are remarried, wounded by disastrous matrimonial experiences, whether it be the reality of new families, whether it be homosexual persons, who in the Church must find a space to be heard, a place of welcome and mercy.

Following his elevation as Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, Mendonça faced renewed allegations of homosexuality, with traditional blog Rorate Caeli writing that “Tolentino was well known in the Portuguese Church for being the absolutely most fabulous fabbest fabuloso of the whole fabulousness!”

Meanwhile others, not going quite so far, decried his elevation given his pro-LGBT record. “What a travesty. LORD JESUS CHRIST, save your Church from this continual error, pretending to be Catholic teaching,” wrote Deacon Keith Fournier, about de Mendonça’s promotion. “We need a true CATHOLIC REVOLUTION. Not just for Catholics, but for all Christians  counting on the mother church to defend the deposit of faith.”