Close on the heels of Cardinal George Pell’s “leave of absence” to face sex abuse charges in Australia, Pope Francis has declined to renew the term of┬áCongregation for the Doctrine of the Faith head, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, a fierce critic of Pope Francis.

Francis could have kept him on, but declined to do so. The Jesuit pope instead tapped the No. 2 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Jesuit Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, to succeed Mueller.

This has created a huge power vacuum at the top of the Vatican hierarchy, particularly among the more conservative wing.

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