American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a fervent opponent of abortion and gay marriage, was removed by Pope Francis from another top Vatican post on Saturday.
The removal of Burke as head of the Holy See's supreme court was widely expected in church circles.
While he was archbishop of St Louis, from 2003-2008, Burke led fellow American bishops in campaigns to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support legalised abortion.
He has also questioned some of the pontiff's pronouncements and approaches. Last year Francis took Burke off the Vatican's powerful Congregation for Bishops, dealing with appointments of bishops worldwide.
On Saturday he transferred Burke from the Vatican court job to the largely ceremonial post of Patron of the Sovereign military order of Malta, a charity whose activities include hospitals and residences for the elderly around the world.
Burke, at 66, would have still had a good decade to continue serving in high-profile Vatican posts. His strident discourse and preference of fancy, old-fashioned vestments contrast starkly with the informal, chatty tone and simple, almost Spartan style Francis has established for his papacy.
Last month, Burke marshaled conservative criticism against the possibility the Vatican may loosen up rules that ban Communion for divorced, remarried Catholics.
Francis has said that church hierarchy should not focus so much on abortion and same-sex marriage but instead concentrate on making the church a more welcoming place.
Meanwhile, Burke has said to a Catholic broadcaster that "we can never talk enough" against abortion and same-sex marriage. He has also questioned Francis' denunciation of excesses of capitalism.