Pon­tiff dis­misses doc­trine chief in tur­bu­lent week for Vatican

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pope Fran­cis has dis­missed the church’s chief of doc­trine, Cardinal Ger­hard Mueller one of the most pow­er­ful car­di­nals at the Vatican-and ap­pointed a Span­ish arch­bishop to the role, the Vatican said yes­ter­day. Ger­man con­ser­va­tive Mueller, 69, who served a five-year post­ing as head of the pow­er­ful depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for church doc­trine, the Con­gre­ga­tion for the Doc­trine of the Faith (CDF), had clashed with the pope over key re­form is­sues.

He was one of sev­eral car­di­nals who ques­tioned Fran­cis’s de­ter­mi­na­tion for the Catholic Church to take a softer line on peo­ple tra­di­tion­ally seen as “sin­ners”, in­clud­ing re­mar­ried di­vorced peo­ple who want to take com­mu­nion. Mueller had also been caught up in the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the church’s re­sponse to the cler­i­cal sex abuse scan­dal af­ter his depart­ment was ac­cused of ob­struct­ing Fran­cis’s ef­forts to stop in­ter­nal cover-ups of abuse.

“In space of three days, two lead­ing Vatican car­di­nals out of their posts,” said Vatican watcher Christo­pher Lamb, af­ter Vatican fi­nance chief Ge­orge Pell was charged with his­tor­i­cal sex­ual as­sault this week. The Vatican said Mueller’s five-year term would not be re­newed and he would be re­placed by CDF sec­re­tary Arch­bishop Luis Fran­cisco Ladaria Fer­rer, a 73-year-old Spa­niard. Ladaria was ap­pointed to the CDF by for­mer Pope Bene­dict in 2008, and was asked last year by Fran­cis to head up a new pa­pal com­mis­sion study­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing women dea­cons in the Church.

‘Nei­ther an­gel, nor pope’

Fran­cis may not have liked the Mueller’s “ex­ces­sive me­dia ex­po­sure” and “in­ter­ven­tions... that al­most al­ways sounded like he was dis­tanc­ing him­self from the pope”, Vatican ex­pert Andrea Tornielli wrote in the Vatican In­sider. The Ger­man was dragged into the row over Fran­cis’s at­tempt to shift Church at­ti­tudes af­ter the pope in­ti­mated last year that some believers who have re­mar­ried should be able to take com­mu­nion.

Tra­di­tion­al­ists were hor­ri­fied; Ro­man Catholic mar­riage is for life, so di­vorc­ing your first part­ner and mar­ry­ing some­one else is con­sid­ered adul­tery. Four con­ser­va­tive car­di­nals ac­cused the pope of sow­ing con­fu­sion and pub­licly de­manded an an­swer to “doubts” about fam­ily guide­lines Fran­cis pub­lished in April. The pon­tiff has yet to re­spond. Mueller said the car­di­nals were within their rights to chal­lenge the guide­lines and in Fe­bru­ary said mar­riage was a “sacra­ment, and no power in heaven or on earth, nei­ther an an­gel, nor the pope... has the fac­ulty to change it”.

Sin­gled out

In March a prom­i­nent church re­form group called for Mueller’s res­ig­na­tion af­ter ac­cu­sa­tions that se­nior of­fi­cials had will­fully ig­nored Fan­cis’s de­ci­sion to cre­ate a new tri­bunal to judge bish­ops who cover up sex­ual abuse. Ir­ish sur­vivor of abuse Marie Collins, who quit the pope’s com­mis­sion on the pro­tec­tion of mi­nors in dis­gust, sin­gled out Mueller’s min­istry, which is in charge of the cler­i­cal abuse dossier. The Ger­man cardinal re­torted in an open let­ter that the tri­bunal had only been a “project” which Vatican de­part­ments felt would need­lessly du­pli­cate ini­tia­tives al­ready in place to deal with way­ward bish­ops.

Mueller is six years short of the tra­di­tional re­tir­ing age. The Vatican did not say what his next ap­point­ment might be. His dis­missal comes at the end of a tur­bu­lent week in the heart­land of the Ro­man Catholic faith, fol­low­ing the charges of sex­ual of­fences brought against the Vatican fi­nance chief on Thurs­day.

— AP

VATICAN CITY: Pope Fran­cis talks with Cardinal Ger­hard Lud­wig Mueller at the end of his weekly gen­eral au­di­ence, in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

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