Archbishop Fernandez, Preacher of Chaos

Have you heard about the scandalous writings by the new head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office? No, no: I don’t mean Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing, the 1995 pamphlet that has occasioned so much comment since Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández was elevated to Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope Francis last week. Kissing is, I suppose, a reasonable subject for theological reflection; though having said that . . .

But let’s leave kissing aside for the moment. First, I want to talk about adultery.

It was Archbishop Fernández who authored the crucial passages in Chapter Eight of Pope Francis’s 2016 document on marriage, Amoris Laetitia. At least, Fernández’s authorship has been widely reported without denial, the wording is very close to his own prose at certain points, and he has publicly enthused at great length about its contents. And Chapter Eight is, deservedly, the most notorious text in modern Catholic history. It amounts to a sustained reflection on the Church’s teaching that the divorced and remarried can only receive Communion if they give up sexual relations with their new partner. Chapter Eight never quite challenges that teaching, but it is written so ambiguously as to open the door to intellectual and pastoral chaos.

Continue reading at First Things