Amid the troubling allegations in a grand jury report out this week that 1,000 or more children suffered sexual abuse by some 300 Pennsylvania-area priests over the past 70 years, there are new worries about Pope Francis’ decision to consecrate a Portuguese bishop who holds unorthodox views.
José Tolentino Mendonça, a Portuguese Catholic priest and poet, claims Jesus didn’t “establish rules.” This bishop is also promoting the theology of a dissenting nun who defends the legalization of abortion and homosexual marriage, according to reporting from LifeSiteNews.
Mendonça, who served as the vice rector of the Catholic University of Lisbon (Portugal), will lead the Vatican Secret Archives for Pope Francis, a role he assumes next month.
“The Holy Father expects of me that I will continue to be an instrument of dialogue and of rapprochement between the Church and the culture,” Mendonça told the Portuguese news service SAPO 24, according to LifeSiteNews.
“That is what I will do, apart from the Apostolic Library, undoubtedly placing my talents and my way of doing things at the service of the church, and writing is a form of communication I will continue to bet on as the place of representation, of communication of Jesus in the world of today.”
The position of Vatican archivist is a weighty one in the context of current Vatican politics. In recent months, the pope has been giving unprecedented access to the Vatican Secret Archives to a small group of scholars who appear bent on altering the Catholic Church’s doctrine regarding contraception, as LifeSiteNews noted.
“Tolentino Mendonça is yet another theologian associated with Pope Francis who has close ties with homosexual advocacy,” said that publication. “Mendonça has associated himself closely with Teresa Forcades [an LGBT activist], a Spanish nun who has become famous for claiming that homosexual ‘marriage’ should be legal and that abortion should be permitted as part of a right of ‘self-determination.'”
In his introduction to the Portuguese translation of Teresa Forcades’ book “Feminist Theology in History,” Mendonça compares her to St. Hildegard of Bingen, a poet and abbess officially canonized in 2012 — who herself drew a fair amount of controversy during her earthly years. He writes that Forcades’ theology is in “a form that is symbolic, open, and sensitive about addressing the real” as opposed to the Church’s traditional way of speaking in “clear, nonmetaphorical terms.”
In other words, absolutes.
While Christians are called to live a certain way, they are also called to be merciful and compassionate. Perhaps this is Mendonça’s paradigm — which could have been lost in translation, as his native tongue was Portuguese.
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Earlier this year, Pope Francis also invited Mendonça to preach at the 2018 Lenten retreat in February — so their theologies must mesh more than a little.
Take a look inside the Vatican archives in the video below.
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.