Pope accepts top liturgy Cardinal’s resignation

Pope Francis, Saturday, accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah.

Sarah was prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and in line with protocol, submitted his resignation towards the end of 2020 when he turned 75.

An outspoken head of liturgy, it was Francis who appointed to the position in November 2014.

No replacement has been announced yet.

“I am in the hands of God. The only rock is Christ. We will meet very soon in Rome and elsewhere,” Sarah tweeted.

Francis and Sarah did not always see eye-to-eye and this was most evident in matters of Liturgy.

During his six-year service as the Congregation’s prefect, made numerous public interventions on the liturgy.

Many of his moves were at odds with the Pope’s wish to implement the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reforms.

In 2014 during the first Synod on the Family, Sarah blamed the media for pushing “the Church [to change] her doctrine” on homosexual unions.

At the 2015 family synod he spoke of threats to the institution of marriage and the family, saying: “what Nazi fascism and communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today.”

Significantly, in 2016, he encouraged priests to celebrate Mass facing east.

The Pope publicly rebuked him for this.

That year Francis also rebuked him for alleging the relationship between the Holy See and bishops on liturgical translations is like that of a parent toward a child’s homework or an academic supervisor to a student.

Then there were the ‘go-slows’ in his department. It took Sarah’s office over a year to draw up a 370-word decree allowing women to be included in the Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual. The decree was something Francis had specifically requested.

Rather than remove him from office, Francis appointed a series of board members to the liturgy department who did not share Sarah’s vision.

In May 2020 Sarah said he was wrongly included as a signatory on a controversial open letter about the pandemic.

The letter said forces could exploit the pandemic in order to usher in a one-world government.

Also last year, Sarah was embroiled in an authorship controversy.

He had presented himself and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as co-authors of a book defending mandatory clerical celibacy. However, although Benedict had written a chapter for the book, he had asked to be removed as a joint author.

The book was published at a sensitive time: just before the Pope was to release his response to the 2019 Amazon synod. During the synod, the bishops had called for the ordination of married men.


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