Release of Vatican Doctrine Chief’s 1998 Book On Sex Sparks Major dispute

Release of Vatican Doctrine Chief’s 1998 Book On Sex Sparks Major dispute


Release of Vatican Doctrine Chief’s 1998 Book On Sex Sparks Major dispute


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article reports on explicit contents from a book many faithful Catholic critics have decried as pornographic.


The digital release of an out-of-print book published in 1998 by now-Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández has sparked an ill-timed scandal around the already-controversial Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF).

The Mystical Passion: spirituality and sensuality,” available only in Spanish, was found and made available in full by the Argentinian traditionalist blog “Caminante Wanderer.”

The book was originally published in Mexico only three years after then Fr. “Tucho” Fernandez published his other controversial book “Heal me with your mouth: The art of kissing.”

When Pope Francis appointed Fernández to head the DDF in July 2023, the cardinal’s 1995 “Heal Me With Your Mouth” resurfaced and was the subject of significant criticism for its erotic themes and depictions.

Fernández once described the first book as “a young pastor’s catechesis for teens” and explained that it was not listed among his theological works because it was “not a theology book.”

The newly-discovered book is also missing from the official list of Fernández’s works.

The Mystical Passion: spirituality and sensuality” is less than 100 pages long, was published in Mexico by “Ediciones Dabar,” and consists of nine chapters: 

  • “The fire of divine love” 
  • “A well of sublime passion” 
  • “A crazy love story” 
  • “Mystical passion” 
  • “Until the end” 
  • “My beautiful one, come” 
  • “Male and female orgasm” 
  • “The path to orgasm”
  • “God in the couple’s orgasm”

The cover of the book features the painting “The Abduction of Psyche” by French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau, depicting the Greek gods Eros and Psyche embracing and partially naked.

Ediciones Dabar, which claims to be a publisher of spiritual works, described the book as “an invitation to a world of passionate love that hides in the depths of our being.”

“Here we are invited to walk with the most passionate men and women in history along the sublime paths of mystical union,” the publisher wrote, “until we reach a point where we seem to touch the impossible. Let’s dare to live this adventure.”

The chapters are not laid out in an articulated theological or academic presentation of the connection between sexual intercourse and spirituality. Rather, they are a series of ideas and suggestions interspersed with anecdotes. 

The graphic, detailed explanations of sexual foreplay and intercourse and their alleged connection with the incarnation of Jesus not only depart from Pope St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” but include passages that many critics have decried as flatly pornographic.

In the chapter “My beautiful one, come,” for example, Fernández narrates what he calls a “mystical” experience of an unnamed 16-year-old girl who confided to the author a dream of caressing and kissing “from head to toe” the uncovered body of Jesus at the Sea of Galilee while the Virgin Mary watched.

In a response in Spanish provided to several outlets requesting a reaction on January 8, Fernández said “Mystical Passion” is a book he wrote while still young and “that I certainly would not write now.” He also said he suspended (“Di de baja” in Spanish) “Mystical Passion” not long after it was published and “never allowed it to be reprinted.”

The motivation to write such a book, the Argentinian Cardinal argued in his response, came after having a conversation with young couples “who wanted to better understand the spiritual meaning of their relationships,” but immediately after it came out he feared the book “could be misinterpreted.”

“That’s why I don’t think it’s a good thing to spread it now. In fact, I have not authorized it and it is contrary to my will,” he said.

In Chapter 6, the teenage girl’s description reproduced by Fernández reads in part: 

Then I caress your delicate legs, which seem to me like perfectly sculpted columns, full of strength and vitality. I caress them, I kiss them, I contemplate how they lean on Mary’s legs and fall resting serenely, and I kiss your feet, and I caress your sore feet that were nailed to the cross.

In Chapter 7, “Male and Female Orgasm,” Fernández writes that a woman 

enjoys caresses and kisses more, and she needs the man to play a little before penetrating her. But he, in short, is more interested in the vagina than the clitoris. At moments of orgasm, he usually makes aggressive grunts; her, a childish babbling or sighs. Let’s not forget that women have a rich venous plexus around the vagina, which maintains good blood flow after orgasm. That is why she is usually insatiable.

In Chapter 8, “The Road to Orgasm,” Fernández writes that 

Saint Therese of Jesus, although she felt tenderly loved by God, never had very “sensual” experiences of his love, and it seems that she only achieved an overflowing and passionate joy at the moment of her death, when her face was transfigured and she said her words. last words: “I love you, oh my God, I love you!”

In Chapter 9, “God in the couple’s orgasm,” Fernández writes that 

to separate God from pleasure is to give up living a liberating experience of divine love. Wanting to hide from God when we experience pleasure, like the woman who hid the crucifix when she had relations with her husband, is believing in a false God who, instead of helping us live, becomes a persecutor who hates our joy.

On the contrary, “the pleasure of orgasm becomes a preview of the wonderful festival of love that is Heaven. Because there is nothing that anticipates heaven better than an act of charity,” Fernández writes.

The full text of the book can be downloaded in Spanish

The publication of Fernández’s 1998 book comes at one of the worst times for the Argentinian Cardinal, since it follows the worldwide pushback against the December 18 publication of Fiducia supplicans, the Vatican declaration that opened the door for the blessing of same-sex couples in certain circumstances.

Fernández’s unprecedented five-page-long “press release” in defense of Fiducia supplicans published on January 4 was met by an equally negative reaction. 

Moreover, on the same day in which the old controversial book was made public, Cardinal Robert Sarah issued a statement supporting the widespread rejection of Fiducia supplicans, marking another major setback for the DDF document and the pontificate of Pope Francis.