Pope replaces Vatican’s doctrinal chief

Pope Francis has replaced the conservative Cardinal Gerhard Müller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria.

Ladaria, who is 73, has previously served as the office’s secretary. He is a Spanish Jesuit theologian.

For the past five years Müller has been the prefect of the Congregation that handles sex abuse cases and guarantees Catholic orthodoxy around the world. In this post he was president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission.

During Müller’s tenure, the sex abuse caseload piled up as victims came forward from across the globe. Last year, Francis confirmed there was a 2,000-case backlog. He began naming new Congregation officials to process the overload.

Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse resigned from Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission in March in frustration.  She said her resignation was a result of the Congregation’s “unacceptable” resistance to accepting the commission’s advice on how to better respond to victims.

Müller has also been at odds with Francis in relation to his teachings in Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). In this, Francis opened the possibility of some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may be able to receive Communion. Individual conscience and discernment are important factors in decisions in these cases.

Church teaching holds that unless these Catholics receive an annulment, or a church decree that their first marriage was invalid, they are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion unless they abstain from sex. For a variety of reasons, such annulments often cannot be obtained.

Müller has made clear he disagrees with Francis’ suggestion that any such decisions could be arrived at in the realm of personal discernment.

“A privatization of the sacramental economy would certainly not be Catholic,” he said last year.

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News category: World.

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