Controversal cardinal and papal ‘adversary’ keeps his job

Cardinal Robert Sarah says he will continue to serve as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, even though his is now over 75 years old.

Bishops must submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75. Sarah celebrated his 75th birthday on 15 June.

Two days later on June 17 in a post on his official Twitter account, Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote: “Thank you for the messages that have reached me from around the world on the occasion of my birthday. Let us continue the path with Christ. For my part, I am happy to continue my work within the Congregation for Divine Worship. Always pray for the pope.”

Pope Francis reportedly asked Sarah to remain as prefect of the liturgy department “until further provision is made.”

Francis was responsible for appointing Sarah as prefect of the liturgy department in November 2014, who is the most senior African prelate at the Vatican. He had previously served as the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Sarah has written a trilogy of books: “God or Nothing” (2015), “The Power of Silence” (2016), and “The Day Is Now Far Spent” (2019).

While he was at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Sarah developed a reputation for outspoken commentary on the Church and the world.

Four years ago in 2016, he encouraged priests to celebrate Mass facing east. This prompted a Vatican spokesman to say that his words had been “misinterpreted.”

In January this year he was again at the center of a controversy, this time over the presentation of a book, “From the Depths of Our Hearts,”. He co-authored the work with the Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI.

He also commented in a magazine interview in April this year that the sick and dying cannot be denied the sacramental assistance of a priest during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Priests must do everything they can to remain close to the faithful. They must do everything in their power to assist the dying, without complicating the task of the caretakers and the civil authorities.”

“But no one has the right to deprive a sick or dying person of the spiritual assistance of a priest. It is an absolute and inalienable right.”

Last month, Sarah said he was wrongly included as a signatory on a controversial open letter arguing that forces could exploit the pandemic in order to usher in a one-world government.


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