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Vatican cardinal: Protecting Catholic doctrine will ‘always be necessary’

By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is pictured in a file photo at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The Vatican’s doctrinal chief has emphasized the Catholic Church’s duty to promote and protect her teachings as passed down by the Apostles.

Speaking to Vatican News on Monday, Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), noted that “what was called ‘concern for right doctrine’” existed before the CDF was created in 1542 and has its roots in the New Testament.

“Our mission is to promote and protect the doctrine of the faith. A task that will always be necessary in the Church, which has the duty to transmit the teaching of the Apostles to new generations,” he said in the Feb. 1 interview.

Ladaria noted that “the concrete way of completing this task has changed over the centuries and we can think that it will change again. But the concern for fidelity to the doctrine of the Apostles will always remain.”

When the office now known as the CDF was established by Pope Paul III in 1542, it was called the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. It served as the final court of appeal in heresy trials.

Ladaria commented that the office is “no longer the Inquisition” and “the Index no longer exists.”

The Sacred Congregation of the Index was a former dicastery of the Roman Curia which produced the Index Librorum Prohibitorum: a list of publications judged immoral or heretical. The last Index was produced in 1948. It was formally abolished in 1966.

The CDF prefect explained that the past of that congregation, sometimes called the Holy Office, “still weighs, because we do not always realize the profound changes that have taken place in the Church and in the Roman Curia in recent times.”

“Our mission is universal, even if our work takes place in Rome,” he stressed. “But our documents are for the universal Church, and the decisions we have to make every day, within the sphere of our competences, very few times directly concern Rome.”

Ladaria said that sometimes the mission of CDF staff takes them physically outside of Rome, such as when they travel for meetings with the doctrinal commissions of bishops’ conferences. The CDF also has frequent meetings with bishops during their ad limina trips to Rome, which take place every five years, to see the pope and pray at the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul.

“They are of great importance, and they take a lot of time and energy,” he said.

Like Pope Francis, Ladaria is a member of the Society of Jesus. He said it is evident that the pope is familiar with the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the order’s founder, from listening to his addresses.

“It is natural that this is the case. And it is normal that this has consequences in his way of governing and in his decisions,” Ladaria said.

“But Ignatian spirituality is universalist, not particularist, it is open to everything and everyone,” he continued, explaining that for this reason he does not think it is easy to identify specific consequences of having a Jesuit pope.

Answering a question about how the congregation is responding to Pope Francis’ call to reach “the peripheries” of society, Ladaria pointed to the CDF’s work in the area of protection of minors from abuse and processing abuse cases.

He observed that “on many occasions the victims of abuse are among the poorest of the poor.”

“There are many types of peripheries,” the cardinal said. “The people we have to listen to, the problems we have to solve, touch real peripheries, perhaps not as visible as others, but no less real and painful for this.”

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  1. Whatever one thinks they believe about the existence of a Supreme Being, a belief in God does not always exist on a conscious level, nor does disbelief correspond to what they think they believe. The late Nat Hentoff, a pro-life witness, thought he was an atheist, wrongly, because being a witness to absolute moral truths makes a soul a witness to eternal sacred truth. This made him more religious, albeit unconsciously, than many professing religion.
    I was a pro-life atheist in my college years, many moons ago, a social conservative among hippie friends. Actually as a pro-life Platonist majoring in physics, who recognized that truth never changes, I was an unconscious believer in God even though I thought I was an atheist. I was destined to shed the silly atheism and become a Catholic after realizing that truth, by definition, is the reflection of the unchanging mind of God. So it is with everyone submitting to Catholic doctrine that always reflects the eternal, unchanging mind of God, recent decades of smug, juvenile, liberal theologians notwithstanding.

  2. Having read this, I wish I were not sitting here bracing myself for yet another new teaching never before seen in 2000 years.

  3. Not much passion here. Just an office to “transmit” stuff (affirm?, proclaim?, witness?). Sounds more like a groundskeeper defending his tool shed. But then, as for the grounds, up pops the image of the uncontested Pachamama right there in the Vatican Garden! The teaching is one thing, but now the openly enabled practices are another. A lavender bouquet…

    So, the marginalized CDF will always be there, probably much sidelined in the pending reorganization of the Vatican curia? Is an all-powerful Secretariat of State the other shoe now poised to drop (recently sanitized from criticism, now that the money-bags filing cabinets have been wheeled out the door and into another cubicle), but neither shoe with a real soul. Why mess with “rabbit hole” doctrinal truth when there are chandeliers to be polished?

    It should be clear by now that the Church–and the radiant Deposit of Faith–IS itself the neglected “periphery”–a residual oddity in a Brave New World. So, a green light for photo-op Fr. Martin, an orange light–but not red–for the “binding synodal path” in disinterred Germania, and salt-free cafeteria-Catholicism in the United States, steered now from the uncontested White House.

    Far be it from today’s Church leadership to resemble the Inquisition and Index of old! But, a spinal transplant is likely a more fitting image…

    We can be thankful that all of the above is just a bad dream.

  4. Vatican cardinal: Protecting Catholic doctrine will ‘always be necessary’. Has Ladaria never reflected what an utterly catastrophic job he and his fellow Jesuit Bergoglio have done of it? What will be the next absurd and outrageous “development of doctrine” that contradicts 2,000 of Magisterium? Transgenderism “because God made you that way”? Gay marriage a.k.a. civil unions “because love is love”? Women deacons because “sexism” and “diversity”?

    • What’s the use of. hoping that the Catholic hierarchy and Pope Francis will follow traditional Catholic moral teaching of 2000 years. It’s My Way or the Highway.
      Nevertheless we are obliged to pray for our Pope and Bishops.

  5. Perhaps the mythical Bergoglian reform of the Curia will finally get it right in rebaptizing the CDF as “Catastrophic Deconstruction of the Faith” after Ladaria’s recusal in turning a blind eye to Pachamama idolatry, explicit avowal of ecumenical indifferentism and relativism as positively willed by God, admission of public adulterers to Holy Communion, free and easy annulments of consummated Catholic matrimonies, universal practical prohibition of the death penalty, practical denial and suppression of the preeminence of abortion as the most important moral issue of our time, triumphal protection and promotion and approval of sodomites and catamites as Catholics in good standing and of homosexuality as acceptable, and hyper-papalism that trumpets Chinese Communism and left-wing globalist totalitarianism as exemplars of Catholic social teaching.

  6. History merely repeats itself over and over, again and again.
    The United States today is a mere repeat of the Roman Empire, or a modern repeat of Russia in the transformation to Communistic Russia. Today Russia is the pit of doom, what the US is patterning itself after.
    What is interesting is, the Catholic faith spread to the World from the Germanic regions of the World. A country that faced communistic take over, but in fact Hitler won out, making Germany of today, the most solid, defiant to war, murder, and economic stable and morally stable place on Earth today…
    The US defies the Catholic mind today in Unjust Wars, defiant to the Catholic Religion in denial of Haiti, Mexico, and all of the Americas.
    Defiant in borrowing Trillions of Dollars , to perpetuate an unsustainable economics that makes the people of today, debt and wage slaves.. With a minute few hoarding the nations wealth, true Unbridled Capitalism, the Pope has recognized and warned the people of…
    Family, and Family Farms, has always been recognized as the back bone of a nation, families of devout faith in God, and God alone to sustain them, not government..
    Today, a minute few, of the “Farm Families” feed the nation.
    and in reality, the US depends on the poor of other nations, to feed the US.
    A political, and religious alarm that points to a grave crisis in the making..
    Not to God is even religious looking to save us, but to, government is the crisis.
    Oh please mr government save, is US church leaders of today.
    We must pray that God intervens, and saves us… our children, and children’s children.

  7. What is the point of this article? Nothing against Fr Ferrer, who has an impossible task of explaining the rantings of his boss, but the writer might have asked Fr Ferrer if and how he views his duty to the truth differently from Cdl Muller, whom he replaced. Another question would be whether Fr Ferrer could conceive of a situation where he would feel compelled to correct his boss, rather than cover for him.

  8. Cardinal Ladaria may be a gifted theologian but sadly the office he heads has been marginalized and emasculated under the current Pontificate, to whom power, money and worldly issues matter more than transmitting the faith as it was handed down from Our Lord and the Apostles.

  9. Is it just a coincidence that Cardinal Ladaria says this one day after Francis kind of proclaimed that Vatican ll is a super dogmatic Council? That all have to adhere to! Errors, bad decisions and all! Also that those who do not adhere to all of Vatican ll are not in union with the Church! This sounds like a correction from Cardinal Ladaria to Francis. What we need today more than ever is the restoration of the Congregation of the Holy Inquisition. The Church needs to cleanse the itself of vile Modernist heretics.

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