Tone-deaf new DDF prefect responds to critics…
Fernandez says his Book ‘Heal Me with Your Mouth’ was meant as a Catechesis for Teenagers!
Victor Manuel ‘Tucho’ Fernandez
The appointment of the new Prefect of the Dicastery for the Destruction of the Faith, Archlayman Victor Manuel Fernandez, has caused an uproar online among many of members of the Vatican II Church that are of a more conservative or traditionalist bent, and for good reason. Even the Modernist ‘Cardinal’ Gerhard Ludwig Müller, himself prefect of the Novus Ordo doctrine factory from 2012-17, is not thrilled with the choice.
There are various reasons to be upset, though not surprised, that Bergoglio should have selected the ghostwriter of Amoris Laetitia and other texts for the job of ‘top guardian of orthodoxy’, and they’re not all doctrinal.
For example, the victims’ advocacy organization Bishop Accountability has accused ‘Abp.’ Fernandez of a “troubling record on [sex] abuse”, and they’re not the only ones:
- “Pope chooses archbishop with troubling record on abuse for top Vatican post: Statement by BishopAccountability.org”
- “From La Plata to Rome. Francis rewarded Tucho Fernandez, someone who covered up paedophilia, with a central position in the Vatican” (La Izquierda Diario via Catholic Conclave)
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Fernandez’s La Plata archdiocese has responded:
- Archbishop Fernández didn’t side with alleged sex abuser, archdiocese says (Catholic News Agency)
Aside from accusations of mishandling abuse claims, what has received the most attention is an 80-page book ‘Tucho’ Fernandez published in 1995. Its title translates as, Heal Me with your Mouth: The Art of Kissing (Sáname con tu Boca: el Arte de Besar). You can’t make this stuff up!
The book was published by Grupo Editorial Lumen. It has now been removed from the publisher’s web site, but it was still advertised there as late as December of last year, even though it appears to have been listed as “out of stock” for quite a while.
In the book description provided by the publisher, Fernandez assures his readers that — of course! — he is not writing about kissing from his own personal experience but from that of others whom he has interviewed:
I want to clarify that this book was not written based on my personal experience but based on the lives of those who kiss. In these pages I want to synthesize the popular feeling, what people feel when they think of a kiss, what they experience when they kiss. For that I chatted at length with many people who have abundant experience in this area, and also with many young people learning in what manner to kiss. I also consulted many books, and I wanted to show how the poets talk about kissing. So, trying to synthesize the immense richness of life, these pages emerged in favor of kissing. I hope that they help you kiss better, that they motivate you to release the best of yourself in a kiss
(Source: Description provided by Publisher)
A few years back, an unauthorized English translation of this work appeared online, anonymously. It includes the same images that appear in the original book. We caution our readers regarding both the content and the pictures:
- Heal Me with your Mouth: The Art of Kissing (English)
- Sáname con tu Boca: el Arte de Besar (Spanish original)
The book’s table of contents lists the following chapters:
- What is a kiss for?
- Paths that lead to a kiss
- What the poets say
- The anti-kiss
- What is said on the street
- An infinite kiss
- The supermystic kiss
An article at Life Site summarizes the content thus:
The work is notable due to its inclusion of unmistakably erotic and often ambiguous sexual relationships in which the genders of the participants are unspecified.
The book also contains various photos of statues and artworks depicting people passionately kissing and embracing one another in intimate and erotic positions, while the text itself is repeatedly sexually suggestive and explicit.
(Michael Haynes, “New CDF prefect Archbishop Fernández hits back at critics of his erotic book on kissing”, Life Site, July 4, 2023)
Interestingly enough, in the sample list of Fernandez’ publications provided by the Vatican along with the notice of his appointment as prefect, Heal Me with your Mouth was not included. Bummer!
In any case, on account of all the outrage, Fernandez has now spoken up and addressed the criticism directly. On July 3, 2023, he published a post in Spanish on his Facebook page. The professional Bergoglio defenders at Where Peter Is provided a translation right away:
On the book “HEAL ME WITH YOUR MOUTH”
I am heartily grateful for the greetings and prayers of so many of you who have written to me through this medium, by e-mail and by different means, in addition to the telephone calls. I have been overwhelmed for almost three days by so much affection from my brothers and sisters.
On the other hand, there are also groups opposed to Francis who are enraged, and who go so far as to use unethical means to harm me. For example, for years they have been referring to a little book of mine that no longer exists, which spoke about the kiss. I was inspired by a phrase from the time of the Fathers of the Church that said that the incarnation was like a kiss from God to humanity.
At that time I was very young, I was a parish priest, and I was trying to reach out to young people. Then it occurred to me to write a catechesis for teenagers based on the meaning of the kiss. I wrote this catechesis with the participation of a group of young people who contributed ideas, phrases, poems, etc…
Well, what these extreme groups do is to say: “Look at the low quality of this theologian, look at the nonsense he wrote, look at the low ability he has.” They have been ridiculing me for years with quotes from that book.
But a catechesis for teenagers is not a book of Theology, there is a great difference in literary genre. A catechesis of a parish priest for teenagers cannot be asked to be a manual of Theology.
And I am proud to have been that young parish priest who tried to reach out to everyone using the most diverse languages. That is why when the Pope speaks of my curriculum vitae he mentions that I was dean of the Faculty of Theology, but at the same time he says that I was pastor of “Santa Teresita.” For him it is important for a theologian to get down in the mud and try to use a simple language that reaches everyone.
I also have written books at higher levels, I have written several articles in the magazine “Angelicum” and in the “Nouvelle Revue Théologique,” for example, texts that perhaps few understand. But the task of a theologian is not limited to these texts.
Worse still, since these attacks come from Catholics in the United States, and they do not know Spanish, they mistranslate one of the poems in the book. They translate the word “bruja” (witch) as “puta” (bitch). But the book says “bruja.” They have no right to change my words. It seems they have no ethics for this, and it’s not the first time they have done it to me.
Anyway, they will continue to say many things, and they will ally with whomever they can in order to attack Francis for having named me. But those who have known me closely know who I am. Thank you for the trust and affection you have always shown me.
I am not doing this to defend myself. I have already endured these things many times and the storm will pass. But I am making this clear so that some of you do not feel confused or suffer because of these and other accusations, but above, all I am doing it so that you will not try to harm Francis.
A big hug.
So ‘Tucho’ says that he wrote about the ‘art of kissing’, that ‘healing’ with the mouth, as a catechesis for teenagers (!). That makes it so much worse! Fernandez’ point that he was not writing a theological manual is a red herring. That was never the issue. It would be perfectly fine for even the greatest theologian to write catechetical texts for children of all ages.
Furthermore, yes, it is obviously wrong to mistranslate a word, but for Fernandez to say he actually wrote and meant “witch” instead of the other term isn’t too much of an improvement. Could this caricature of an archbishop be any more tone-deaf?!
Pedro Gabriel, an avid defender of Amoris Laetitia (refuted here), provides the following translation of two stanzas of the poem with the controversial ‘itch’ term in it. Remember that these lines were authored by Fernandez himself:
Come on down, my dear,
before someone desperate
wakes you up
with a terrible hickey
How was God
as to give you that mouth…
There is no one who resists it,
This is just the kind of thing you’d want your teenage children to be reading, isn’t it? So edifying!
In any case, we’ll spare you the poem in which Fernandez asks to be bled to death by the kiss of a “she-wolf” (loba).
Also, Tucho’s claim that he “was inspired by a phrase from the time of the Fathers of the Church that said that the incarnation was like a kiss from God to humanity” is not terribly convincing. For one thing, what “inspired” him to write the book is not the point — the title and the content are. Secondly, notice that, contrary to what may appear at first, he did not say that it was a phrase from one of the Church Fathers that inspired him, he said that it was a phrase from the time of the Church Fathers. That is a very different thing, and only a careful reader will notice the nuance. Intentional?
Perhaps it will be useful to recall to the authentic Catholic teaching on the morality of kissing. Aside from platonic kisses between relatives and a kiss used as an innocent greeting, kissing is generally reserved for the married life for obvious reasons that need not be elaborated on here.
Outside of wedlock, romantic kissing is obviously an occasion of sin. A brief but good summary of the Catholic teaching on this is provided by Fr. Thomas Slater, A Manual of Moral Theology, Vol. I (4th ed.), on p. 337, and will typically be found in any pre-Vatican II Catholic moral theology book. For those looking for an more in-depth treatment of the issue will find this in Fr. Winfrid Herbst’s booklet Kissing. A great general book on Catholic morality that is more suitable to younger readers is Catholic Morality by Fr. John Laux.
We congratulate all Novus Ordos on their new Prefect of the Dicastery for the Faith. He knows that the catechetical needs of teenagers include important information about hickeys and witches, and that “in order to get a kiss one must make a journey” (p. 21).
What could possibly go wrong?
Image source: YouTube (screenshot)
License: fair use