(Rome) Cardinal Gerhard Müller was dismissed by Pope Francis as a Prefect of the Roman Congregation for Doctrine and the Faith.
Müller, previously Bishop of Regensburg, was appointed in June 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. to the Roman Curia to take over the central task as the guardian of the Orthodoxy. On 2 July 2012, he took office. Between Pope Francis and the German Cardinal the relationship was always clearly chilly. In the conflict over the bishops' synod about the family and the post-synodal letter Amoris Laetitia it sank to the zero point. The Cardinal was vehemently opposed to a change in Catholic marriage and morality, without directly criticizing the Pope. In the past there had been an increasing speculation about an imminent dismissal.
Because of his defense of the traditional teachings he was criticized as an "antagonist of the pope"
The more clearly Pope Francis and his immediate circle, to which Cardinal Miiller never belonged, succeeded toward the admission of remarried divorced persons to Communion, the more vehemently the German Cardinal asserted that no one could alter Jesus' teachings, not even the Pope. The fact that he read Amoris Laetitia in the light of the traditional teachings, sufficed to place him under the title of "pope's antagonist."
At the beginning of the Second Episcopal Synod over the family, Cardinal Müller belonged to the 13 Cardinals, who sent a spectacular protest letter to Pope Francis. They protested against the Synods, which wanted to assign them the role of mere extras, while the results seemed to be fixed in advance.
Since then the door of Francis was closed to the Prefect of the Faith. Not because the Cardinal had been wrong, but because the letter had stifled the strategy of the papal entourage.
An increasingly severe conflict
With the dismissal, Francis waited exactly for the expiration of the term of office, which was limited to five years. The dismissal could have already taken place in March 2013, because with the election of a new pope all Curial Offices expire. Francis, however, initially shied away from radical interventions and confirmed the bulk of his work, as is the custom of the Vatican. Gradually, he exchanged leading Curial representatives. The first heads that rolled were "Ratzingerians", such as Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation of Clergy, Cardinal Secretary of State Bertone, Cardinal Canizares, Prefect of the Congregation of the Worship and Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature.
The tiny formalism that left Cardinal Müller in office for a full term of office and now, so to speak, to use the legitimate possibility of a new appointment, can not blind us to the radicality of the intervention in an ever harder struggle for the orientation of the Church.
With the dismissal of the Prefect of Faith, the equilibria in the Vatican, in which Pope Francis has repeatedly intervened, are massively slipping, with initially unpredictable consequences.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
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