Pope Francis thanks Cardinal Ladaria for years heading Dicastery for Doctrine of the Faith

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Luis Ladaria at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Jan. 21, 2022 Pope Francis greets Cardinal Luis Ladaria. | Vatican Media.

Pope Francis met with Cardinal Luis Ladaria on Tuesday morning to thank him for his six years as head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The pope visited the dicastery shortly after 9 a.m. on Sept. 5, the Vatican said in a brief statement. Francis also greeted other officials of the dicastery after his meeting with the 79-year-old Ladaria.

On July 1 Pope Francis appointed Argentine Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández as Ladaria’s successor as doctrine chief.

Fernández, 61, will take up the post on Sept. 11.

Ladaria was appointed prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, then called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on July 1, 2017. He succeeded German Cardinal Gerhard Müller.

The Spanish theologian had served as secretary of the Vatican’s doctrine office since 2008.

A member of the Jesuits since 1966, Ladaria received a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1975. 

He went on to become a professor of dogmatic theology at the Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid and later at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Ladaria was also vice rector of the Gregorian from 1986–1994.

As head of the DDF, Ladaria was also president of the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Those roles will now be filled by Fernández.

Ladaria was made a cardinal in a June 2018 consistory.

Fernández, a prolific writer and close collaborator of Pope Francis, was archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, from 2018 until his appointment as head of the DDF on July 1.

The theologian also served as rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina from 2009–2018.

“As the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, I entrust to you a task that I consider very valuable,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter to Fernández published with the announcement of his appointment.

The pope said the dicastery at times has promoted pursuing “doctrinal errors” over “promoting theological knowledge.”

“What I expect from you is certainly something very different,” Francis said. “I ask you as prefect to dedicate your personal commitment in a more direct way to the main purpose of the dicastery, which is ‘guarding the faith.’”

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