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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a bold statement, the incoming head of the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog has reaffirmed his reservations regarding the Roman Catholic Church's prohibition on same-sex blessings, emphasizing the need for a thorough reassessment.
Expressing openness to overturning the Vatican's ban on same-sex blessings, a ban that was categorically asserted by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2021, Abp. Víctor Manuel "Tucho" Fernández candidly urged, "It wouldn't be bad to rethink it."
"I believe that, without contradicting what that [DDF] document says, it wouldn't be bad to rethink it in light of everything that Francis has taught us," Fernández argued in an interview on Saturday with Religión Digital, a pro-LGBT Spanish media outlet.
"Many say that it does not have the flavor of Francis in the way it is drafted and in some of the expressions it uses," the prelate explained, challenging the DDF prohibition of same-sex blessings that unequivocally stated, "God does not and cannot bless sin."
"In this matter, as in others, we will have to heed what the pope asks of me at the end of his letter, which is for the dicastery's documents to embrace the recent Magisterium," the prefect-designate emphasized in the Religión Digital interview.
Emphasizing a significant departure from the historical role of the office once known as the Holy Inquisition, Pope Francis wrote a letter to the new prefect instructing him to focus on "promoting theological knowledge" and not pursuing "possible doctrinal errors."
"What I expect from you is certainly something very different," the pontiff wrote, urging Fernández to encourage theologians in this work, "as long as they are not 'content with a desk-bound theology,' with 'a cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything.'"
This is the second time Fernández has signaled his willingness to endorse blessings for homosexual couples since Pope Francis appointed the Argentine prelate as the Roman Catholic Church's guardian of doctrine on July 1.
"If a blessing [to same-sex couples] is given in such a way that there will be no such confusion, it will have to be the subject of analysis and confirmation," Fernández explained in an interview with Spanish media InfoVaticana on Wednesday.
The prelate, who has been nicknamed "El Tucho, besame mucho" (Tucho, kiss me a lot) for his semi-erotic book Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing, stressed, however, he would exercise "the greatest care" to prevent conflating marriage with "gay blessings."
Meanwhile, speculation has erupted over whether Fernández will also seek to overturn the ban on artificial contraception laid down in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae.
In a 2006 article for the Spanish theological journal Revista Teología, the prelate wrote that a Catholic wife should agree to the use of condoms "when she perceives that family stability is put at risk by subjecting her non-practicing husband to periods of continence."
"In such a case, an inflexible refusal to use condoms would make compliance with an external norm take precedence over the serious obligation to care for loving communion and conjugal stability that charity demands more directly," Fernández argued.
"Jesus saves us, not a doctrine," the prefect-designate remarked in an interview with Vatican News published Saturday. "No religious doctrine has ever changed the world unless there has been an event of faith, an encounter that reorients life."
"And this does not only apply to Christianity but can be seen in the history of religions. For example, in the crisis of Hinduism and its subsequent renewal, with hymns to Krishna and many other occasions," Fernández added.
"Without an experience of the living Christ who loves and saves, we cannot shape our 'being Christian.' And concentrating on arguing and debating with everyone will not help mature this development in people," the Vatican's new guardian of doctrine maintained.
"Even a situation where a possible heresy has to be dealt with should lead to a new theological development that matures our understanding of the doctrine, and this is the best way to safeguard the faith," Tucho observed.
Pope Francis has announced his intention to elevate his friend and ghostwriter Fernández to the cardinalate at a consistory on Sept. 30. In all, Francis will create 21 new cardinals, 18 of them electors with the right to vote in the next conclave.
Adding new electors will increase the number of cardinals eligible to vote in a conclave to 137. Among them, Pope Francis will have appointed 99 cardinals, accounting for 72% of the electors.
Of the remaining 38 cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI appointed the remaining 29, and Pope John Paul II appointed 9. To be elected as pope, a candidate requires a two-thirds majority vote.