THE Pope has fired the cardinal in charge of the Vatican office that handles cases of sexual abuse after releasing Cardinal Pell to return home to face multiple charges.
Pope Francis on Saturday decided not to renew German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller’s position, instead replacing the 69-year-old with his 73-year-old deputy, Spanish Jesuit Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer.
Although no exact reason was given for the dismissal of Mueller, one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, it is believed to have been made due to a backlog of some 2000 cases of sexual abuse that had amassed during his five-year term in the position.
His office had also come under intense criticism from survivors of abuse for not doing enough to protect children from paedophile priests. Criticism which Pope Francis agreed with.
In May, Francis assigned more staff to the office, known as the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith, to handle the overload of sex abuse cases.
The Pope’s move to fire Mueller has been considered a show of commitment to his ‘zero tolerance’ attitude towards sexual abuse by clergymen in light of accusations made against Pell.
Although the cardinal has strongly denied the charges, the Pope has continually come under widespread criticism for having appointed Pell to one of the most powerful positions in the Vatican.
Pell will face a Melbourne court hearing on multiple charges of historical sexual assault on July 26.
Meanwhile, his Australian supporters have set up a fund to help pay his legal fees after he was charged with historical sexual offences. The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said last week it would help Pell with accommodation on his return to Australia to face the charges, but would not foot his legal bills.
Originally published as Vatican fires sex abuse office chief