Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Encyclicus Maculatus: Eco-Encyclical To Undergo Revision

(Photo: CNS / Paul Hering)
According to Vaticanist Sandro Magister, Pope Francis has decided to postpone the publication of his long-awaited encyclical on the environment. The reason, according to Magister, is that the Pope realized that the document in its current state had no chance of receiving the approval of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under the leadership of Cardinal Gerhard Müller. If it seems somewhat improper for a Cardinal to be telling a Pope what he can and can't write, don't fret, gentle reader: the text wasn't written by Pope Francis at all.

The ghostwriter behind the heavily discussed encyclical is one Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández of Tiburnia, a native of Buenos Aires. Archbishop Fernández, who belongs to Pope Francis' inner circle in the position of most trusted theological adviser, was already heavily involved in the writing of Evangelii gaudium, and spent the Summer of 2013 in Rome for that purpose. Last March, as Pope Francis set about to compose his Eco-Encyclical, Archbishop Fernández was again flown in to do the heavy lifting. The close working relationship apparently stretches back to the time when Pope Francis was still Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, with Fernández working largely behind the scenes, drafting the future Pontiff's important speeches and letters.

Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández
(Notice the pectoral cross. Look familiar?)
However, it seems that Archbishop Fernández has let the influence he enjoyed over papal affairs go to his head. In an interview published in Corriere della Sera last Sunday, he took the current wave of Ultramontanism to new heights, implying that the Curia and the entire body of Cardinals are non-essential to the government of the Church - which, while technically true, is Vaticanese for "we will push ahead, with or without the Cardinals' blessing." He also felt safe enough to criticize Cardinal Müller's recent comments that his job as Prefect of the CDF is to give the Pope's magisterium theological structure:
I have read that some say that the Roman Curia is an essential part of the mission of the Church, or that a Prefect in the Vatican is the sure compass preventing the Church from falling into ignominy, or that this Prefect guarantees the unity of the Faith and facilitates serious theology from the Pope. But Catholics know from reading the Gospel that it was to the Pope and the Bishops that Christ granted a special governance and enlightenment - and not to a Prefect or some other structure. When one hears such things, one could almost get the impression that the Pope is merely their representative, or one who has come to disturb and must, therefore, be monitored. [...] The Pope is convinced that what he has written or said cannot be treated as an error. Therefore, all these things can be repeated in the future, without having to fear receiving a sanction for it.
We don't know how Cardinal Müller reacted to these sharp words, or whether, as Giuseppe Nardi surmises, he spoke directly with Pope Francis regarding the encylical, but Magister relates that sources inside Santa Marta are reporting that the Pope will not be publishing Archbishop Fernández' already completed text, and has - for the time being - tabled the entire project. It's clear that he can't let it disappear entirely without a tremendous loss of face in the public arena; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, apparently moonlighting as a Vatican spokesman, has announced that the encyclical is set to appear in June of this year. But who will be behind the next incarnation of the encyclicus maculatus is anybody's guess.

(NB: I would like to acknowledge the work of the tireless Giuseppe Nardi, without which this article could not have been written. See his treatment, in German, here.)


Edward Pentin has written an excellent followup article which includes something of a démenti on the part of Fr. Frederico Lombardi. In it, Fr. Lombardi contradicts what Sandro Magister's unnamed sources inside Santa Marta reported regarding the abandonment of Archbishop Fernández' draft of the upcoming eco-encyclical, saying that the encyclical will appear as planned, i.e. "probably in June." I'll happily overlook the contradictory tinge of that assessment, and wait patiently with the rest of you to see exactly what the future holds for what will, in all likelihood, remain the encyclicus maculatus.


  1. The part I find fascinating is this text:

    "The Pope is convinced that what he has written or said cannot be treated as an error. Therefore, all these things can be repeated in the future, without having to fear receiving a sanction for it."

    It would appear as if the bishop of Rome has a problem with all those pollyanna's reinterpreting his musings according to the "I am a loyal son of the Church" template.

    Oh well, appears that not only the Encyclicus maculatus, but the entire Francis "magisterium" has a an imminent encounter with the holy shitt'a.

    Simply Amazing!

  2. +Fernández is tipping his Left hand, essentially saying: "Pope Francis is our precedence generator. Anything he says is instant orthodoxy, and when we repeat these same statements in the future - and, rest assured, we will - we're going to shout down all opposition with 'Behold, the Magisterium of the Super Pope!', at which our enemies will cower in fear and trembling." How much do you want to bet they fly in paid supporters from South America to chant "Santo subito! day and night after Pope Francis' death, right up until his canonization a week later?

  3. Please cite the source from Sandro Magister on which your article is based.

  4. Dear Anon,

    The L'Espresso article is linked above.

  5. Wait, wait, wait...let me get something straight here. Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez is the author of the Pope's Eco-encyclical, and this is the same Victor Manuel Fernandez, who as a "Catholic" priest, wrote a book entitled "Heal Me With your Mouth" on KISSING?! The book's description (auto-translated): "On these pages, the author stresses the importance of sustaining the kiss as both romantic relationships as affective, as well as teaches the reader to kiss better." (Found here:

    So, can one say that Archbishop Fernandez is an expert in human kissing and tree hugging? And he is the Pope's right-hand theologian? This cannot possibly get more comical.

    1. I read in the 1 Peter5 comments if the article linked to in these comments that there's a reiki practioner by that name, who wrote that book, but adds "Casanova" to his name.

  6. Too bad Vatican II didn't undergo "revision" right into the round file.

  7. I shudder to contemplate the beatification and canonisation of JMB. That would be the dark night of my soul.

  8. He looks just like Rahm Emmanuel.

  9. Is there an English translation of the L'Espresso article? Or how can I translate it? Thanks.

  10. Dear Codgitator,

    Thanks for the recognition! It's very much appreciated.

  11. Dear Restore,

    I don't think there's an English translation online yet. Magister might put one up on www.chiesa.espresso soon, though.

  12. Can someone read Archbishop Fernandez's book on "kissing" and report the heresies in it?

  13. Dear Anon,

    I just checked the comment section over there, and it seems to have been confirmed that +Fernández did, indeed, write the book on kissing, though not the one on Reiki. I suppose that's something of a relief.


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