Pope Francis is removing the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, one of the Church’s most senior cardinals, who has taken an orthodox stand from the beginning of the pontificate.

LifeSite has confirmed with a source in Rome that Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, is to be removed from his office on July 2, the end of his five-year mandate in the position.

In recent years, the mandate for the office has been extended until the normal retirement age of 75. In the case of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, it was extended beyond, until his election to the pontificate at age 78.

But Cardinal Muller, 69, has been steadfast in his opposition to the liberal interpretation of Amoris Laetitia favored by Pope Francis.

In terms of vocal conservatives in the hierarchy of the Vatican only Cardinal Robert Sarah remains. Cardinal Burke was removed by Pope Francis and demoted to patron of the Order of Malta. Australian Cardinal George Pell, as reported yesterday, is now off to his home country to defend himself against media-hyped charges of sexual abuse.

Cardinal Muller, according to sources, seems set to take over as the Patron of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, replacing Cardinal Edwin O’Brien who at 78 is three years past retirement age.

The head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was at one time second in power only to the Pope.

Full story at LifeSiteNews.

Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer will replace Mueller

In a short statement, the Vatican said Francis thanked Cardinal Gerhard Müller for his service. Müller’s five-year term ends this weekend and he turns 70 in December. The normal retirement age for bishops is 75.

Francis could have kept him on, but declined to do so. The two have clashed over the pope’s openness to allowing civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion. Müller has insisted they cannot, given church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The Jesuit pope tapped the No. 2 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Jesuit Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, to succeed Müller.

Full story at The New York Times.