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Pope Francis replaces critical theologian Gerhard Ludwig Muller

Newly elected cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Germany arrives during a consistory ceremony led by Pope Francis in Saint Peter"s Basilica at the Vatican February 22, 2014. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gerhard Ludwig Müller will not have his mandate renewed

Pope Francis has decided to replace a conservative cardinal who openly questioned the pontiff's attempts to create a more inclusive church.

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller will not have his five-year mandate as Catholicism's chief theologian renewed.

The German's departure will open the way for his "meek" second-in-command to take the role.

The 69-year-old was named as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope Benedict in 2012.

Pope Francis was elected the next year.

The two did not see eye-to-eye, with Cardinal Müller questioning Pope Francis's attempts to being more open to "imperfect" Catholics, like those who are divorced.

Earlier this year, a victim of sexual abuse within the Church accused Cardinal Müller's department of impeding the Pontiff's efforts to stop internal cover-ups of abuse.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pope Francis - with Cardinal George Pell, left - and Cardinal Müller are known not to see eye-to-eye

His replacement, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, is described as "speaking the same language" of the Pope, a priest told the Reuters news agency.

"Ladaria is someone who is meek. He does not agitate the pope and does not threaten him," he said.

The priest, who works in the Vatican and asked not to be named, added: "Clearly, the Pope and Cardinal Müller have not been on the same page for five years."

The change was announced by the Vatican two days after Cardinal George Pell was granted leave of absence from his position as treasurer to fight charges of historical sex offences in his native Australia.

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