Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández (CNA/Daniel Ibanez)

The Vatican’s doctrinal head says a controversial book he wrote more than 25 years ago is “by current standards … inconvenient” and “did not have the usefulness” he had envisioned at the time of writing. Source: OSV News.

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, was responding to questions regarding La pasión mística: espiritualidad y sensualidad (Mystical Passion: Spirituality and Sensuality), published in 1998 while he was still a priest in Argentina.

Three of the book’s chapters explicitly discuss orgasms and one passage recounts a 16-year-old girl’s “passionate encounter with Jesus” that includes caressing him on the beach and kissing his mouth.

Shortly after the original Spanish text resurfaced online in early January, two sexual abuse survivors — who emphasised they were not accusing the Cardinal of wrongdoing — said they found the material, passages of which they had read in translation, distressing.

Clerical abuse survivor Faith Hakesley called the book “absolutely nauseating”.

Teresa Pitt Green of Spirit Fire, a Christian restorative justice network that works with the Catholic Church, said she was troubled by Cardinal Fernández’s account of the unnamed teen in his book, which she said indicated “a level of impropriety that is very disturbing.”

Writing in Spanish, the Cardinal replied, “I agree that by today’s standards it is an inconvenient book. In fact, I myself realised this 25 years ago, a few months after its publication and ordered it to be withdrawn because it seemed to me that it did not have the usefulness I had imagined, and that very young or very old people could get confused.

“Moreover, I bought the few copies that were available in some bookstores and destroyed them,” he wrote. “That is why I regret that the ultra-conservative sectors that do not accept me have used this book and have spread it widely. It is totally against my will and no good is done with this. Today, I would write something very different.”


Cardinal Fernández responds to concerns by abuse survivors about astonishing book (By Gina Christian, OSV News)