Several outlets are reporting today that Pope Francis will not be re-appointing Cardinal Gerhard Müller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when the cardinal’s five-year term is up on July 2.
Edward Pentin, who says he has independently confirmed the report, writes at the National Catholic Register:
The Italian Catholic website Corrispondenza Romana and the Rorate Caeli blog were the first to break the news, with Corrispondenza Romana sending out an email this evening with the definitive message: “His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from July 2, 2012, has been fired by Pope Francis on the exact date that his 5-year mandate expires.”
Cardinal Müller was appointed prefect of the CDF by Pope Benedict XVI after Müller’s predecessor, Cardinal William Levada, reached retirement age. At 69, Müller is still several years shy of the customary retirement age of 75.
On several occasions over the last year, Cardinal Müller has maintained that Pope Francis’ post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia must be read in continuity with Catholic teaching on the subject of Communion for the divorced and remarried. This stance put him at odds with his fellow German bishops, who announced in February that some divorced and remarried Catholics may receive Communion and cited Amoris Laetitia as support for their position.
Pentin reports that possible replacements for Cardinal Müller include Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ (secretary to the CDF), Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, and Archbishop Bruno Forte (who served as special secretary to the Synod on the Family in 2014). Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who was appointed a member of the CDF in January, is also rumored to be a candidate to replace Müller.
UPDATE (7/1): The Vatican announced this morning that Archbishop Ladaria will replace Cardinal Muller as prefect.