Cardinal Gerhard Müller has said that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was “disappointed” that the cardinal’s position as the Vatican doctrinal chief was not renewed.

Cardinal Müller made the comment in an interview with the press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, published in Die Welt.

Benedict appointed Cardinal Müller in 2012 as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), a position Benedict himself had held from 1981 to 2005. The Vatican says that the CDF’s role is to “spread sound doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines”.

It has long been customary for the prefect of the CDF to continue until he resigns or reaches the age of retirement. Francis, however, replaced Cardinal Müller at the end of his five-year term with Archbishop Luis Ladaria, previously the CDF’s secretary.

Two weeks ago, Cardinal Müller said that his removal was abrupt, and announced with no discussion or advance warning. Pope Francis “did not give a reason”, the 69-year-old cardinal said. “Just as he gave no reason for dismissing three highly competent members of the CDF a few months earlier.” Cardinal Müller said this approach was at odds with the Church’s social teaching, saying: “I cannot accept this way of doing things. As a bishop, one cannot treat people in this way.”

In the new interview, Cardinal Müller criticised the culture within the Vatican as sometimes exhibiting an excessive devotion to the Pope.

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