Pope Francis Dismisses Cardinal in Charge of Vatican Doctrine Watchdog

Pope Francis Dismisses Cardinal in Charge of Vatican Doctrine Watchdog
Pope Francis Dismisses Cardinal in Charge of Vatican Doctrine Watchdog

Pope Francis Dismisses Cardinal in Charge of Vatican Doctrine Watchdog

German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, an arch-conservative who led the Vatican’s doctrine watchdog, has been dismissed from his post by Pope Francis, several media outlets reported on Saturday.

Mueller, 69, was named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on July 2, 2012.

Francis met him on Friday, and according to the reports, told Mueller that his mandate had come to an end after five years.

The news, published by the La Stampa and Il Messaggero newspapers, among others, was first reported on Friday by conservative blogs, Corrispondenza Romana and Rorate Caeli.

The Vatican press office was not immediately available for comment.

According to Reuters

In a major shake-up of the Vatican’s administration on Saturday, Pope Francis replaced Catholicism’s top theologian, a conservative German cardinal who has been at odds with the pontiff’s vision of a more inclusive Church.

A brief Vatican statement said Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller’s five-year mandate as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a department charged with defending Catholic doctrine, would not be renewed.

The position is the most important one that a pope fills in the Vatican hierarchy after the Secretary of State. Most incumbents keep it until they retire, which in Mueller’s case would have been in six years.

Mueller, 69, who was appointed by former Pope Benedict in 2012, will be succeeded by the department’s number two, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.

Ladaria, a 73-year-old Spaniard who, like the Argentine pope is a member of the Jesuit order, is said by those who know him to be a soft-spoken person who shuns the limelight. Mueller, by contrast, often appears in the media.

“They speak the same language and Ladaria is someone who is meek. He does not agitate the pope and does not threaten him,” said a priest who works in the Vatican and knows both Mueller and Ladaria, asking not to be named.

Since his election in 2013, Francis has given hope to progressives who want him to forge ahead with his vision for a more welcoming Church that concentrates on mercy rather than the strict enforcement of rigid rules they see as antiquated.

Mueller is one of several cardinals in the Vatican who have publicly sparred with the pope.

 

The German cardinal is seen as a leading critic of Francis’ landmark Amoris Laetitia document which in 2016 suggested that people who were divorced and remarried could, under special circumstances, be allowed to take the Holy Communion.

In March, Mueller’s congregation was accused by a clergy sex abuse survivor Marie Collins of resisting the work of a papal commission on child protection.

She told Jesuit magazine America that the CDF’s “shameful’’ attitude led her to resign from the commission.

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