Pope Benedict XVI Appoints Catholic Church’s New Top Cop
If anyone in Rome needs a little vacation, it’s Pope Benedict XVI. The 85-year-old pontiff has spent several grueling months troubleshooting multiple scandals that reached a climax in late May with the arrest of his trusted butler, who stands accused of stealing private papal documents and leaking them to the press.
But before leaving for his annual getaway in Castel Gandolfo, where he will escape the heat until the fall, the pontiff made his most significant personnel decision of the year. On Monday, he appointed his German compatriot Gerhard Ludwig Müller to replace American Cardinal William Levada as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Formerly the office of the Inquisition, the CDF now occupies itself with policing church doctrine. Benedict himself ran this crucial congregation for nearly two decades. And that has caused some speculation that the pope is looking for a stronger national ally in a top position, possibly to bolster support against the Italian contingent in the Roman Curia as he looks ahead to the fall when scandals will surely resurface.
A fellow Bavarian, Müller is the bishop of Regensberg, where Benedict XVI once taught and where his brother Georg Ratzinger—the former head of the Domspatzen boys choir–still lives. Back in 2010, Müller proved himself a trusted confidant to the pope when he traveled as a papal accessory to Germany, where he apologized on Pope Benedict’s behalf to pedophile victims of the diocese. Müller was unwavering in his support of the pope’s brother, who was briefly rumored to have been involved in widespread abuse at the Domspatzen choir.
Müller also proved his loyalty when he founded the Pope Benedict XVI Institute. He’s also currently the editor of Opera Omnia, which will eventually showcase all of the pontiff’s theological writing.
His new job will be no easy task. When Müller takes charge of the congregation, his agenda will already be full. He will have to deal with several open cases, including just what to do with the American nuns of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who stand accused of bucking church doctrine by pushing radical feminist ideas. [More]