With This Appointment, Pope Francis Repudiates His Predecessor

Since Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) Victor Manuel Fernandez was named by Pope Francis to head the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF), much criticism of the appointment has focused on the strange book Archbishop Fernandez wrote more than thirty years ago: Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing. Some of my conservative friends argue that the book is heretical; others say it is pornographic. Those criticisms miss the mark. The reality is worse.

Predictably enough the Argentine archbishop has dismissed the complaints, saying that they come from ”ultra-conservative sectors that deeply hate the Argentine Pontiff.” He assures us that the book “contains no heresy or error.”

No heresy, perhaps. (And isn’t a relief to know that the Vatican’s top doctrinal official has not pronounced material heresy?) But it was an “error” for a young priest to write a book about kissing. (Didn’t the Vatican tacitly acknowledge as much when, as his appointment was announced, The Art of Kissing was left off an otherwise comprehensive list of the archbishop’s published works?) Put it this way: If you knew that a young priest had shown such a keen interest in the details of make-out sessions that he wrote a how-to book about kissing, would you recommend him as a camp counselor?

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