Former doctrine chief denies false account of papal meeting

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The former head of the Vatican’s
doctrine office denied reports claiming he was dismissed by Pope Francis due to
differences in doctrinal matters.

In a story in the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost,
journalist Guido Horst said Cardinal Gerhard Muller “could not believe his
eyes” upon reading the claims written by Maike Hickson on the online
journal OnePeterFive.

“‘This is not true; the conversation had been quite
different,'” Horst reported that Cardinal Muller said.

OnePeterFive cited a “trustworthy German source”
who quoted an eyewitness “who recently sat with Cardinal Muller at lunch
in Mainz, Germany” and allegedly heard the cardinal’s account of the
meeting with Pope Francis.

The article claims the pope asked the cardinal’s stance on
women’s ordination to the diaconate and priesthood, the repeal of celibacy, the
exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia” and the dismissal of
three employees of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It goes on to allege that, following the cardinal’s responses,
the pope said he would not renew his mandate and left the room “without
any farewell or explanation.”

Die Tagespost reported that Cardinal Muller said the account
of the meeting by the alleged German source “was false.”

The claims made in OnePeterFive were reprinted in Italian by
journalist Marco Tosatti who received a message denying the claims from Greg
Burke, Vatican spokesman.

In the message, shown to Catholic News Service July 13,
Burke told Tosatti that the reconstruction of the meeting “is totally
false. I ask that you publish what I have written.”

Following the announcement that Cardinal Muller’s five-year
term would not be renewed, two blogs presented the pope’s move as a dismissal
of the German cardinal.

However, Cardinal Muller told the German daily, Allgemeine
Zeitung, that “there were no disagreements between Pope Francis and
me” and that there had been no dispute over “Amoris Laetitia,”
the newspaper reported July 2.

The cardinal also said the pope’s decision had been
unexpected since such terms were usually renewed, but that he was not bothered
by it.

“I do not mind,” he said, adding that
“everyone has to stop” at some point.

“The five-year term had now expired,” he said. The
cardinal told the newspaper that Pope Francis wanted, in general, to limit the
term of office to five years and he just happened to be the first person to which
the new standard applied.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.


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