Curial officials live in fear that “spies” will denounce them to the Pope, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has said.

In an interview with National Catholic Register, Cardinal Gerhard Müller said that Pope Francis was surrounded by “false friends” who acted like children in a boarding school by privately attacking people they disagreed with.

“I heard it from some houses here, that people working in the Curia are living in great fear. If they say one small or harmless critical word, some spies will pass the comments directly to the Holy Father, and the falsely accused people don’t have any chance to defend themselves,” the cardinal said.

“These people, who are speaking bad words and lies against other persons, are disturbing and disrupting the good faith, the good name of others whom they are calling their brothers.”

Cardinal Müller said this was happening not just in the Curia, but also in colleges and universities, where people who questioned Amoris Laetitia, particularly footnote 351 – which seemed to cast doubt on Church teaching about Communion for the divorced and remarried – put their careers in jeopardy.

“A certain interpretation of the document’s footnote 351 cannot be criteria for becoming a bishop,” the cardinal said.

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