Pope appointed Argentinian bishop as head of watchdog office in Vatican

RELIGIOUS NEWS AGENCY (REDNA) – Pope Francis, the world Catholic churches leader, appointed an Argentinian bishop as the head of the watchdog office that ensures doctrinal orthodoxy.

AP reported the bishop is a trusted theological advisor for one of the Vatican’s most powerful positions.

Francis named Monsignor Victor Manuel Fernández, the archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, as the prefect, or chief, of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Fernández has been nicknamed the “pope’s theologian″ since he is widely believed to have helped author some of Francis’ most important documents.

Fernández is widely believed to have been a key author behind some of Francis’ most consequential documents, notably “God is Love,” a 2016 exhortation that opened the door to letting divorced Catholics who remarry in civil ceremonies to receive Communion.

Fernández, 60, replaces retiring Cardinal Luis Ladaria, a Jesuit like Francis who took over in 2017 after the pontiff abruptly removed conservative German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller after a single term leading the doctrine department. Mueller was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, a darling of church conservatives.

The watchdog office’s new chief plans to take up his post in mid-September, the Vatican announcement of his appointment said.

The doctrinal watchdog office has 16th-century roots in a commission established to deal with heresy and schism. Known originally as the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition, the body also scrutinized matters of faith and morals.

In a letter to his new appointee that the Vatican made public Saturday, Francis wrote that the office in its current version has as its “central purpose” safeguarding church teachings that springs from faith in order to “give reason for our hope, but not as enemies who point out and condemn.

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