‘Cardinal Bigfoot’ and the Return of La Suprema?

Barely six months into his term as prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández has certainly made his mark on his office.

In the opening months of his tenure, the cardinal has scarcely been out of the news, and his department has once again become the focus of Vatican affairs.

But is the cardinal overseeing a reborn DDF, one climbing back to its former perch as “la Suprema” in the Roman pecking order — or is he a one-man movement, stepping on toes and overstepping departmental boundaries?

Whether it is fielding criticism of his past published works, issuing — then clarifying — a declaration on the blessing of people in same-sex unions, reminding the Church at large about his department’s disciplinary remit, or issuing admonishments about sacramental abuses, Fernández has made more headlines since September than his predecessor in an entire term of office.

In making waves, the cardinal has also catapulted the DDF back to the forefront of Vatican departmental life, something few would have expected two years ago, when Pope Francis promulgated his apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium, which reorganized the Vatican curia.

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