Pope Names German Bishop as Leader of Doctrinal Office
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a fellow German theologian, Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, to lead the Vatican’s doctrinal office, which is responsible for enforcing orthodoxy, the Vatican said in a statement on Monday.
As the prefect of the office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Müller, 64, of Regensburg, Germany, will also oversee a continuing investigation of the social justice work of nuns in the United States as well as the handling of clerical sexual abuse cases. He was simultaneously promoted to archbishop.
He replaces Cardinal William J. Levada, 76, the highest-ranking American in the Vatican hierarchy, who is retiring. On his watch, the Congregation issued a scathing rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the central coordinating group of American nuns, and contended with a resurgence of accusations of clerical sexual abuse in 2010.
Vatican experts said that Archbishop Müller’s appointment showed that Benedict, 85, is seeking to forge a core of theologically like-minded and loyal advisers as he contends with a scandal over leaked documents that has revealed the dissent and disarray within the Vatican hierarchy. The pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was charged in May with possession of secret documents.
“Levada was more of an executor, whereas Müller, because of his own theological training and experience, is more in sync with Ratzinger,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert, referring to the pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who held the doctrinal post for 25 years.
Mr. Magister said that Archbishop Müller would become part of a “small nucleus” of cardinals in whom the pope could have complete confidence, including Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a Canadian who leads the Congregation for Bishops; and Cardinal Kurt Koch, who is Swiss and directs the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. [more]