Pope Francis has dismissed the church’s chief of doctrine, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller.
Mueller was one of the most powerful cardinals at the Vatican, but the Vatican has announced a Spanish archbishop will take over the role.
The news comes just two days after Australian cardinal George Pell was released, to return home to face charges of sexual abuse.
Mueller, 69, had clashed with the pope over key reform issues and was one of several cardinals who questioned Francis’s determination for the Catholic Church to take a softer line on people traditionally seen as “sinners”, including remarried divorced people who want to take communion, reported Nine News.
Mueller had also been caught up in the controversy surrounding the church’s response to the clerical sex abuse scandal after his department was accused of obstructing Francis’s efforts to stop internal cover-ups of abuse.
In March a prominent church reform group called for Mueller’s resignation after accusations that senior officials had wilfully ignored Francis’s decision to create a new tribunal to judge bishops who cover up sexual abuse.
In a short statement, the Vatican said Francis had thanked Mueller for his service. Mueller’s five-year term ends this weekend and he turns 70 in December. The normal retirement age for bishops is 75.
Mueller has been replaced by 73-year-old CDF secretary Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.