It’s been a rough few days for the Catholic Church. First, Australian Cardinal George Pell — the third-ranking official in the Holy See — was charged with sexual abuse after the police received several complaints from alleged victims. Pope Francis made a statement by refusing to have the Vatican pay for Cardinal Pell’s attorney fees, and by putting him on leave, even though the cardinal maintains his innocence.
Now the pope — who has distinguished himself by making progressive statements that no other pope would’ve ever dreamed of making — is shaking things up again after he decided to replace German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Catholicism’s top theologian.
Mueller’s mandate, which only lasted five years, was not renewed. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise for Vatican followers, as Pope Francis and the theologian constantly argued about the pope’s intentions of making the Catholic Church more inclusive, and even a safe space for people that have historically been rejected by them — including homosexuals.
Traditionally, Mueller would’ve held his position until retirement — approximately for six more years — but he was replaced by his second in command, Archbishop Luis Francisco Landaria Ferrer.
Ferrer, a Spaniard, not only speaks the same language as Pope Francis — which could make things easier in order to avoid getting concepts lost in translation — but he is also a member of the same order, the Jesuits.
“They speak the same language and Ladaria is someone who is meek. He does not agitate the pope and does not threaten him,” said a priest who works in the Vatican.
With Pope Francis’ progressive statements and amendments to the traditional Catholic Church, it only made sense to have a person he can relate to in such a key position. The replacement alone is also an important statement on its own, giving hope to moderate and progressive Catholics of a more inclusive and less divided church under his mandate.
Interestingly enough, Mueller has also been in charge of presiding over sexual abuse allegations, so it is possible to believe that the change comes from a place of discontent of how such important matters used to be handled by popes before Francis.
As it seems, the Catholic Church might well be on its way to being more inclusive and open-minded.
[Featured Image by Andrew Medichini/AP Images]