Archbishop Fernández admits mistakes handling priest sexual abuse case

Fernández admits mistakes

Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández publicly acknowledged on Sunday that he made mistakes in handling a case involving a priest accused of sexually abusing minors in 2019.

Archbishop Fernández (pictured) has been accused by critics of attempting to protect the priest.

Fernández has vehemently denied the allegations.

However, in an interview after conducting Mass in La Plata, Argentina, Fernández admitted that he would approach the situation differently if given the chance.

“Today, I would certainly act very differently and certainly my performance was insufficient,” he told The Associated Press.

Francis appointed Fernández the archbishop of La Plata in 2018 and recently named him as head of the Holy See’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This role involves guaranteeing doctrinal orthodoxy and addressing sexual abuse allegations against clergy.

Additionally, Fernández was bestowed with the title of cardinal along with several other religious figures on Sunday., a US-based organisation dedicated to documenting abuse in the Catholic Church, has raised concerns about Fernández’s appointment as the head of the dicastery.

The organisation alleges that Fernández dismissed the allegations made by minors against Eduardo Lorenzo, a priest in the Archdiocese of La Plata, who was accused of abusing them.

Could have been more attentive to victims

In response to the criticism, Fernández issued a statement to the AP on Monday, refuting the claim that he had expressed disbelief in the allegations.

He asserted that he took steps to distance the priest from the alleged victims.

However, during the interview, Fernández expressed self-criticism and attributed his actions to his lack of experience in a different diocese, having assumed the position of archbishop of La Plata in 2018.

He acknowledged that the church’s procedures for handling abuse allegations by clerics were less clear at the time.

Fernández admitted that he could have been more attentive to the victims and should have acted earlier in removing Lorenzo from his priestly duties while the investigation was ongoing.

“I cannot say that I have committed a crime or something against what was established at that time, but that I could have been a much better father, much better pastor and much more efficient. That, of course, I recognise,” he told AP.

Demonstrated support for the accused priest

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, expressed scepticism regarding Fernández’s statements, asserting that claims of ignorance were not credible.

Doyle pointed out that Fernández had demonstrated support for the accused priest on multiple occasions and questioned why he had never reached out to Lorenzo’s victims if he truly regretted his handling of the case.

Known as the “pope’s theologian” due to his close advisory role to Pope Francis, Fernández is believed to have contributed to the drafting of several important documents issued by the pontiff.

Fernández revealed that he had discussed the criticism surrounding Lorenzo’s case with the pope, and Francis had advised him to present an accurate account of what had transpired.


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