Cardinal Victor Fernandez, who has been heading the Vatican’s religious authority for about a month, will also advise in the future on the interpretation of canonical texts. As the Vatican press office announced on Saturday, Pope Francis appointed the 61-year-old Argentinian as a member of the “Department of Legal Texts.”
At the same time as appointing Fernandez, Francis also appointed the head of the clerical body, South Korean Cardinal Lazarus Yoo Hyung-sik, to the powerful body. In addition, Giuseppe Salvati, former director of the Mother Ecclesiastical Institute of Religious Studies in Rome, was appointed secretary of the Pontifical Theological Academy.
Fernandez is an ex-officio voting member of several important governing bodies of the global church. The Department of Legal Texts, to which he was appointed, plays a decisive role in the binding interpretation of legal texts, similar to similar state institutions in Italy or France. But it cannot be completely compared to the Constitutional Court. In addition to interpreting existing canon law in controversial cases, the further development and revision of canon legal norms is also part of the department’s remit. The deciding body in matters of fundamental importance is the so-called plenary, which consists of ten cardinals and bishops.
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