Complicity of Pope and Archbishop Fernandez in systematic sexual abuse cover-up

NB: This is from a left-wing source; but still the catalogue of cases is damning.

From La Plata to Rome. Francis rewarded Tucho Fernandez, someone who covered up paedophilia, with a central position in the Vatican.

To confirm that his Papacy is an accumulation of pure gestures, Bergoglio put a trusted bishop as Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith (the old Inquisition), the post held by Ratzinger, among others, before he became Pope.  As Archbishop of La Plata, Fernandez was noted for his contempt for victims and his cover-up of abusers.

The Italian correspondent of the conservative Argentine daily La Nación on Saturday called it "bombshell news" and an "unexpected appointment".  It probably is for those who align themselves with the most reactionary, ultra-medieval and obscurantist sectors (they all are) of the Roman Curia.  But if one considers the moves made by Jorge "Francis" Bergoglio in recent years, it should not come as much of a surprise.

The news in question is that the Vatican has just published in its Official Bulletin that the Archbishop of La Plata Víctor Manuel "Tucho" Fernández has been selected by the Pope as the new "Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith", as reported in the bulletin of the so-called Holy See. Fernández will take up the post in September, replacing Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.

The Dicastery is the direct successor of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition, created in 1542 by Paul III, whose legacy for humanity was to have shed blood over part of the world with its "witch" hunts, torture and humiliation of "heretics" and other bloodthirsty methods to control the population that was fractious with the "apostolic and Roman Catholic doctrine".  Among some of its milestones, the Inquisition tried and condemned Galileo Galilei for his heretical theories.

While modern inquisitors no longer send their executioners to extirpate satanic confessions under torture or burn women on bonfires set up in public squares - that is nowadays done in a more civilised fashion by states and their governments - it is still the Vatican "ministry" that controls, censors and sanctions everything related to the "values" of official Catholicism. This includes the systematic plan to cover up thousands and thousands of rapes of children and adolescents in schools, institutes and parishes all over the world.

Precisely, Tucho Fernández is a specialist, among other things, in guaranteeing this systematic cover-up while issuing communiqués and homilies in which, as Bergoglio commands, he guiltily condemns the abuses committed by his cassock-wearing employees.  The few who manage to break the silence of the ecclesiastical walls and leap into the public eye, of course.

Valuable work

The Official Vatican Bulletin publishes a letter that Francis sent to Tucho. There he says that he entrusts him with a "very valuable" task, such as "guarding the teaching that springs from faith in order to 'give reason for our hope, but not as enemies who point out and condemn'".  As if to "clarify", the Pope acknowledges that the Dicastery "in other times came to use immoral methods" and that "those were times when, rather than promoting theological knowledge, possible doctrinal errors were pursued.  What I expect from you is undoubtedly something very different," he says to his partner.

Interestingly, the Roman monarch makes explicit his intention to free the new Prefect from having to "deal with" the complaints of sexual abuse that reach Rome.  "Given that for disciplinary matters - related in particular to the abuse of minors - a specific Section has recently been created with very competent professionals, I ask you as Prefect to dedicate your personal commitment more directly to the main purpose of the Dicastery, which is to 'guard the faith'", he orders.

Strictly speaking, this new "section" he speaks of is an office dedicated to receiving the handful of "official" allegations against bishops, priests and nuns that dioceses around the world feel the Vatican should "investigate" and "pass judgement" on.  But it is an office that answers directly to the Dicastery soon to be headed by Fernández.  Pure fairy tale.

Moving the chips

The Pope's move seems to be in line with others in recent years in which the Argentine pontiff has been placing men he trusts in key positions in the Vatican who, in addition, adhere to his "theology of the people" (a doctrinal approach that, appealing to populist clichés, distances itself aesthetically from the most ultra-conservative sectors of the Church).  Aware that his health is declining with the passage of time, the so-called "Peronist pope" is already planning his succession by filling St. Peter's Square with a devoted civil service.

The most emblematic case is that of the former Bishop of Orán, Salta, Gustavo Zanchetta, a man of extreme confidence in Bergoglio.  Between December 2018, when the allegations against him by two abused seminarians (the victims could have been many more) and March 2022, when he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, the merciful pope sought to "save" Zanchetta by putting him in charge of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

Better known as the Vatican's "real estate", that office manages more than five thousand properties around the world with an estimated value of US$3 billion.  In the end, Zanchetta had to return to Argentina to stand trial.  However, he now enjoys a house arrest that is denied to any Christian for much less serious crimes.

So far it is not known whether Tucho Fernandez directly abused minors, seminarians or students at the Catholic University of Argentina when he was its Rector.  What is known is that in recent years he was in charge of covering up for any stray sheep that was denounced for these crimes, doubly aggravated by the fact that they were representatives of a religious organisation (with the level of vulnerability of the victim that this implies).

In a special report published by La Izquierda Diario last December, eleven of the cases denounced so far in La Plata are detailed, in which, in different ways, "Tucho" played a clear role in covering up for his priests.  A cover-up that goes hand in hand with dehumanisation and contempt for the victims and survivors.

The cases are those of the former general chaplain of the Bonaerense Penitentiary Service, Eduardo Lorenzo (who committed suicide in December 2019 in a Caritas headquarters minutes after being arrested), the creator of the Miles Christi congregation, Roberto Yanuzzi (the only one excommunicated by the Pope, although for his doctrinal differences and not for his abuses), Héctor Giménez (denounced but unpunished), Rubén Marchioni (publicly denounced but not judicially), Maximiliano Di Virgilio (the family of his victim dropped a criminal complaint), the former chaplain of the Gendarmerie in Misiones Raúl Sidders (absurdly imprisoned under house arrest and close to a publictrial) and five former priests of the Provolo Institute in La Plata (Nicola Corradi, Horacio Corbacho, Giuseppe Spinelli, Giovanni Granuzzo and Eliseo Primati).

Along with Fernández, the Auxiliary Bishop of La Plata, Alberto Bochatey, a servant trained by the ultra-reactionary Héctor Aguer, "Tucho's" predecessor, played a central role in the cover-up plans in almost all these cases. Although there are no known allegations about him either, and despite the "enmity" between Bergoglio and Aguer, in 2017 the Pope appointed Bochatey "apostolic commissary" to investigate allegations of sexual abuse at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza. He obviously did not investigate anything, let alone collaborate in the judicial case that ended up condemning Corradi and Corbacho to almost fifty years in prison.

"Tucho" and Bochatey, among other aberrations, organised the "Homage Mass" (and a Funeral Mass) for the suicide Lorenzo in the same Parish of Gonnet where the priest, for years, abused teenagers whom he corrupted and extorted to satisfy his oppressive desires.

One would expect no less from the Pope himself.  In addition to having been an accomplice to several crimes of the last civil-military-ecclesiastical dictatorship (when he already held a high position in the Argentinean Curia), in his country he has been protecting criminals of the stature of Julio Grassi, Zanchetta, Justo Illaraz, Agustín Rosa Torino and dozens of priests and bishops for years with canonical investigations that only resulted in impunity.  With the exception of the mafioso Yanuzzi, not even the few priests criminally convicted were thrown out of the Church.

Another characteristic of Víctor Fernández is his vocation to "mediate" in social conflicts, when they threaten the political power of the day. For example, in 2018 he rushed to the aid of the then governor María Eugenia Vidal when hundreds of workers left from the entrances of the Río Santiago Shipyard in Ensenada to occupy the headquarters of the Ministry of Economy in La Plata in repudiation of the plans of adjustment and surrender of the company by the Cambiemos administration.  To do this, the Archbishop devised a demobilising manoeuvre together with part of the trade union leadership of the region that endorsed (by action or omission) Vidal's plans.

Now, after five years of "cleaning" (with liturgical cosmetics and silences bought at a good price) the archdiocese of La Plata of the ultraconservative residues left by Aguer, "Tucho" has to transfer part of his experience to the Vatican.

Of course, to occupy a position held by intellectuals such as Joseph Ratzinger, Fernández does not lack a curriculum vitae.  He will become Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith after having been Dean of the Faculty of Theology in Buenos Aires, President of the Argentinean Society of Theology and of the Faith and Culture Commission of the Argentinean Episcopate.  And before assuming the Archbishopric of La Plata, he was rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.  He is a true cadre for all the needs and urgencies that the Vatican has at its particular Bergoglian stage.