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Pope Francis Demotes U.S. Cardinal Critical of His Reform Agenda


ROME — Pope Francis on Saturday sidelined a powerful American cardinal who has emerged as an unabashed conservative critic of the reform agenda and the leadership style that the Argentine pontiff has brought to the Roman Catholic Church.

In an expected move, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke was officially removed as head of the Vatican’s highest judicial authority, known as the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He was demoted to the ceremonial position of chaplain for the Knights of Malta, a charity group.

The Vatican made no comment in announcing the change, but Cardinal Burke is hardly one of the pope’s favorites. Last December, Francis removed the cardinal from a position that gave him great influence in appointing new American bishops. In return, Cardinal Burke has questioned Francis’ leadership and has been a stern opponent of proposals to allow divorced or remarried Catholics to receive communion.

In a contentious October meeting of church leaders, known as a synod, Cardinal Burke also rejected positive, more welcoming language about gay people in a draft document that was released at the halfway point of the gathering. He and other conservative bishops forced the language to be watered down in the synod’s concluding summary document.

Francis has called another synod for next October where church leaders are expected to make final recommendations on possible changes for how the church deals with divorced Catholics, gay people and other issues related to the theme of family. (NY Times)

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