This is big.


In an unexpected and highly significant move, Pope Francis has appointed the Argentine theologian and archbishop Victor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández as the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican announced today.

Pope Francis wrote a letter to the new prefect in which he told him in Spanish, “As prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, I entrust to you a task that I consider invaluable. It has as its main purpose to safeguard the teaching that comes from the faith ‘to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns.’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 271).”

The dicastery that you will preside over in other epochs came to use immoral methods. Those were times when more than promoting theological knowledge they chased after possible doctrinal errors. What I expect from you is something without doubt much different,” Francis said.

The dicastery, previously a Vatican congregation, was long known as “La Suprema” among Vatican offices. It is entrusted with Catholic doctrine and discipline. Historically, particularly during the Inquisition but also in the 20th century, the congregation had a reputation for its free hand in censuring or silencing theologians, though under Francis its actions have been curtailed. The dicastery also oversees the majority of sex abuse cases referred to the Vatican, which today constitutes over 80 percent of its work.

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