Pope Francis has replaced a US conservative cardinal who is strongly against equal marriage and abortion with an American cardinal who is less outspoken.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was dismissed from the Vatican Committee in favour of Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, will continue in his role as a prefect of the Vatican’s highest canonical court, the Apostolic Signatura.
As a result of his removal from the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Burke’s influence over the Roman Catholic Church is reduced, especially his input into personal changes in US Catholic churches.
He is staunch supporter of upholding traditional Church rites and traditions favoured by Pope Benedict XVI and previously, in an interview with EWTN, he disagreed with Pope’s Francis, saying: “One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media, that he thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman.
“But we can never talk enough about that.”
Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former archbishop of Philadelphia within the Congregation of Bishops was also replaced while Pope Francis reaffirmed the posting of Cardinal William Levada, who is also a moderate.
According to the New York Times, many Catholic Church experts have viewed the recent removals from the Congregation of Bishops to be a bigger sign of promoting inclusivity within the Church.
However, others saw this move more as an attempt to bring stylistic and pastoral consistency to the Church rather than a decision to change the doctrine on social issues.
In November, US President Barack Obama said he had been “hugely impressed” by Pope Francis’ recent remarks admitting the Roman Catholic Church was “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception.
Speaking to reporters in July during a plane journey back to the Vatican following his trip to Brazil, Pope Francis said that gay people should not be judged or marginalised and should be integrated into society.
Last month, Pope Francis also encouraged members of the Catholic Church to fill out a survey on the Vatican’s teaching on current issues which included same-sex relationships so as to gauge whether the Church’s preaching is still practical.