Cardinal Sarah Remains Head of Vatican Liturgy Department after 75th Birthday

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at the Vatican, Feb. 10, 2015. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Cardinal Robert Sarah said Wednesday that he would continue to serve as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship beyond his 75th birthday.

Bishops are required to submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75. The Guinean cardinal celebrated his 75th birthday Monday, June 15. 

In a June 17 post on his official Twitter account, 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.”

 

 

ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian language partner agency, reported June 18 that Pope Francis had asked Sarah to remain as prefect of the liturgy department donec aliter provideatur, or “until further provision is made.”

Pope Francis appointed Sarah, the most senior African prelate at the Vatican, prefect of the liturgy department in November 2014. 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 read widely throughout the Catholic world: “God or Nothing” (2015), “The Power of Silence” (2016), and “The Day Is Now Far Spent” (2019).

During his tenure at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments he has built a reputation for outspoken commentary on the Church and the world. 

In 2016, he encouraged priests to celebrate Mass facing east, prompting a Vatican spokesman to say that his words had been “misinterpreted.”

In January this year he was at the center of a controversy over the presentation of a book, “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” as a co-authored work by himself and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. 

Meanwhile, in an April interview with the French magazine Valeurs actuelles, Sarah said that the sick and dying cannot be denied the sacramental assistance of a priest during the coronavirus pandemic. 

He said: “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,” he continued, “has the right to deprive a sick or dying person of the spiritual assistance of a priest. It is an absolute and inalienable right.”

In May, Sarah insisted 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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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
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