The Pope Emeritus has hailed Cardinal Gerhard Müller for defending the “clear traditions of the faith”.

His intervention came in a preface to a book of essays honouring Cardinal Müller.

Until last year the cardinal had served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith but Pope Francis chose not to renew his term of office.

The book, entitled The Triune God: Christian Faith in the Secular Age and released by the German publisher Herder, is intended to mark the cardinal’s 70th birthday and comes ahead of the 40th anniversary of his priestly ordination in February.

In the introduction, Benedict XVI wrote that Blessed Paul VI wanted the more demanding positions in the Roman Curia, particularly the posts of prefect and secretary of the congregations, “to be limited to only five years in order to protect the freedom of the pope and the flexibility of the Curia”.

Addressing Cardinal Müller, Benedict XVI said: “Your five-year commission at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has expired, so you do not have a specific office anymore, but a priest and certainly a bishop and cardinal is never simply retired”, which is why he must continue to “publicly serve the faith”.

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