Catholic Synod: Cardinal 'demoted' by Pope Francis

Cardinal Raymond Burke 17 October 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Cardinal Burke, a leading US bishop, is to lead the sovereign military order of Malta

A leading American cardinal has told BuzzFeed that he is to be demoted from his position running the Catholic Church justice system.

Cardinal Raymond Burke is a staunch critic of Pope Francis' moves to soften the Church's stance on homosexuality.

He said that he was to be moved to the far less senior post of patron of the sovereign military order of Malta.

Pope Francis is leading a council in the Vatican on possible reforms to Church teaching on social issues.

A preliminary report on the initial discussions at the extraordinary Synod on the family was released on Monday.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Pope Francis is said to be more relaxed about homosexuality than his predecessors

The report, which was written by more than 200 bishops, said homosexuals had "gifts and qualities to offer", and used more welcoming language when discussing homosexuality and its place in the Church.

Although it does not challenge the Church's stance on gay marriage, the document was praised by liberal clergymen and activists.

However, it was also criticised by more traditional and conservative Church figures who rejected it.

Cardinal Burke was among the most publicly critical of the bishops involved in the discussions.

For weeks, there had been rumours that the Pope would demote him, says the BBC's James Reynolds in Rome.

Last year, a survey launched by Pope Francis suggested that the majority of Catholics rejected Church teaching on issues such as sex and contraception.

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