The Latest: Pope sacks German cardinal handling abuse cases

The Latest on the Catholic Church's sex abuse crisis (all times local):

9 p.m.

Pope Francis sacked the head of the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases just days after he released another top Vatican cardinal to return home to stand trial for alleged sexual assault.

The developments underscore how the Catholic Church's sex abuse crisis has caught up with Francis, threatening to tarnish his legacy over a series of questionable appointments and decisions in his four-year papacy.

Francis on Saturday declined to renew the mandate of German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that processes and evaluates all cases of priests accused of raping or molesting minors.

Francis named Mueller's deputy, Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit, to run the powerful office instead.

During Mueller's five-year term, the congregation amassed a 2,000-case backlog and came under blistering criticism from abuse survivors.