Cdl. Robert Sarah Re-Appointed to Head Congregation for Divine Worship

by Rodney Pelletier  •  •  November 22, 2016   

Cdl. Raymond Burke gone from Vatican Congregation

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VATICAN CITY ( - The Vatican is releasing the names of the new members of the office that handles liturgical and some sacramental practices in the Roman Catholic Church. Among notable re-appointments are Cdl. Robert Sarah, a big advocate of ad orientem worship, while other orthodox prelates have not been re-appointed, including Cdl. Raymond Burke.

On October 28 it was announced that Pope Francis would be adding more members to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW); it was not clear whether more tradition-minded prelates like Cdls. Raymond Burke, George Pell, Marc Ouellet or Angelo Scola would be allowed to stay. It turns out they have not been re-appointed.

The new list shows that Cdl. Robert Sarah is still prefect of the congregation, with Abp. Arthur Roche as secretary. Notable new members include Abp. Piero Marini, Cdl. Beniamino Stella and Cdl. John Dew.

Marini, with a doctorate degree in liturgy, was the master of papal liturgical ceremonies under St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Although he has advocated for the use of Gregorian Chant in the Roman liturgy, he was also known for more modernist sensibilities in the liturgy, letting scantily clad women dance for a papal Mass under John Paul II and allowing a shaman to "bless" him at a Mass in Mexico City.

Stella is allegedly against groups that exclusively use the Traditional Latin Mass, like the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

New Zealand's Cdl. Dew commented during the 2015 Synod on the Family in Rome that the Church needs to "change its language" regarding homosexual relations, charging that the term "intrinsically evil" is negative and not helpful.

Some cardinals, however, are still on the congregation, namely Cdl. Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo and former CDW secretary, as well as Hungarian prelate Cdl. Peter Erdő. At the 2015 Synod on the Family, Erdő was an outspoken advocate for the Church's teaching on marriage and the family. He noted that the Church's ban on giving Holy Communion to unrepentant divorced and civilly remarried people was not an "arbitrary prohibition" and was rather "intrinsic" to the nature of marriage and "demands conversion" on the part of the couple.

Sarah has been the head of the CDW since appointed by Pope Francis in 2014 and has shown himself to have traditional sensibilities when it comes to the liturgy. Earlier this year he asserted that the Second Vatican Council never mandated priests to say Mass facing the people. He went further to say that priests don't need permission from their bishops to say Mass "ad orientem," or facing East, towards God in the Tabernacle.

He declared that "it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the East. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted."

In October he asserted the merits of offering Mass ad orientem: The posture reminds the priest that he's an instrument of God, not a professor giving a lecture.


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