Pope Francis on Saturday [Feb. 20] accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Sarah, who turned 75 in June 2020, was the most senior African prelate at the Vatican, appointed head of the liturgy department by Pope Francis 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.
The Guinean cardinal 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).
Sarah said in a Tweet Feb. 20 that Pope Francis had accepted his resignation after his 75th birthday.
“I am in God’s hands. The only rock is Christ. We will meet again very soon in Rome and elsewhere,” he wrote on Twitter.
During his tenure at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Sarah 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.”
During the first Synod on the Family in 2014, Cardinal Sarah opposed what he said were efforts by the media “to push the Church [to change] her doctrine” on homosexual unions.
At the 2015 family synod he said threats to the institution of marriage and the family claiming “what Nazi fascism and communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today.”
Sarah was also 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 in January 2020.
The book, subtitled “Priesthood, Celibacy, and the Crisis of the Catholic Church,” elicited conflicting statements on the extent of the pope emeritus’s involvement in the project.
Sarah defended himself in statements on Twitter, saying Jan. 17, 2020 he met with Benedict and “there is no misunderstanding between us.”
The book contains a chapter credited to Benedict, a chapter credited to Sarah, and an introduction and conclusion, which have been attributed to the two men jointly….
The above comes from a Feb. 20 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.
RIP Cardinal Sarah
He hasn’t died. He merely resigned.
I thank you with emotion for the thousands of messages that reached me yesterday from all over the world. Now this is my Lenten retreat. I invite you to pray in the great silence of God. Let us be faithful to Christ, following him on the way of the Cross. +RS
From his twitter
A great Cardinal. Miss him already. Too bad he could not be our Pope someday.
He can still be Pope.
Yes, Anonymous, but he can only be eligible for election as Pope, until he turns age 80. After that, he will no longer be eligible to even join the College of Cardinals for a Papal conclave, to elect a Pope.
No. Any baptized male of any age can be made Pope. He can’t vote for the Pope after 80 but he could still be elected Pope. Only 3 Popes older than 80 have ever been elected.
Cardinal Robert Sarah: a Bishop who proved himself to be a most worthy successor to the Apostles. A man of humility, yet complete integrity, who spoke his mind even when in disagreement with [but always obedient to] the successor of Peter. A scholar who articulated his views so that his fellow scholars never felt talked down to, but that the ordinary Catholic-in-the pew could understand. A paradigm nonpareil for the rejection of racial prejudice.
I pray, for the Church’s sake, that his resignation was voluntary!
But, no matter— he will remain, I am sure, a paradigm of the Faith lived with utmost sincerity.
At his age, he seems energetic and acute beyond his years. God willing, we all will be graced with many more of his wise and insightful writings.
For his inestimable example, Deo gratias.
The Church’s law says that they must offer their resignation at the age of 75.
Yes, and the Pope does not have to accept it as under previous Popes many have continued in office for years. With Bergoglio, he accepts the resignations of Traditional Catholic prelates but keeps his left wing buddies in office.
In 2018, “Pope Francis tweaked the Church’s policies on bishops and Curial officials reaching the age of retirement, indicating that they should accept what God wants, whether accepting retirement or accepting continued service.,” according to Catholic News Service. “They are requested to resign at 75, and will continue in their positions unless the Pope accepts their resignation. He may also request them to stay on, at his discretion.” Pope Francis has asked many bishops to continue on past age 75. Those include Archbishop Paglia, with the homoerotic “art” in his cathedral. In addition to Cardinal Sarah, those put out to pasture include Archbishop Chaput, Cardinal Muller (who chose to retire at 73 when abruptly terminated at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), and Archbishop Robert Carlson.
Bishop Thomas Olmsted has less than a year until his 75th birthday. Oddsmakers are betting Pope Francis will accept Bishop Olmsted’s retirement letter and not ask him to continue. I hope they’re wrong.
Note: Cardinal Sarah submitted his Canon Law required resignation many months ago. He has been allowed to continue his service to the Church for many more months. In other circumstances, the Holy Father accepted those kinds of resignations immediately. I wouldn’t read too much into this decision, though of course, it is no secret that Cardinal Sarah favors a pre-Vatican II orientation to the liturgy.
Your Fellow Catholic, simply to clarify a point about Liturgy, the ad orientem (priest and people all facing the same direction) is not a only “pre-Vatican II” practice. Of the 24 Churches that make up the Catholic Church, at least 22 celebrate Mass ad orientem. I think the Maronite Catholic Mass, like the Mass of the Latin Church (Roman Rite), may be celebrated with the priest facing the people. (Can a Maronite reader clarify this?) The Second Vatican Council did not change the orientation of the Mass. You can check the documents themselves if you’d like. Subsequent to the Council, bishops’ conferences and the Vatican were involved in that change. Our ancient Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgies, while admittedly “pre-Vatican II,” are still celebrated and could also be described at “pre-Vatican I, “pre-Trent” or “pre-Lateran.” So, Cardinal Sarah and other bishops who propose the option of ad orientem Masses are not proposing something that is simply “pre-Vatican II.” I hope that helps clarify it. Come worship with us sometime! When I lead prayers facing the altar, I can assure you that I’m not turning my back to you. Rather, we’re all facing the altar and the Lord, and asking for His great and abundant mercy for us and the whole world.
During the Eucharistic Prayer, when the priest is behind the altar, we are all facing the altar and the Lord, too. But the prayer is to the Father.
Ad orientem means facing East, the direction from which the Lord is arriving in His Second Coming.
God bless you, Deacon Anderson, for clarifying that, and God bless Cardinal Sarah. May he have a long, holy & healthy life. His explanation, from the Scriptures of Ad Orientem was quite beautiful. I have noticed, too, that many women in the eastern churches have kept the beautiful custom of wearing scarfs and veils before the Blessed Sacrament. In the video of a male cantor and young girl chanting Psalm 50 (51) in Aramaic all the females have lovely head coverings — a much misunderstood custom.
Anonymous, that’s correct. I did not intend to imply otherwise. My point to a fellow Catholic was that ad orientem worship is not “pre-Vatican II” any more than the Last Supper. It is widespread and was normative for most of history. And, neither my pastor or I “turn our backs toward” anyone during worship (as we’ve sometimes been accused of).
(Many “pre-Vatican II” practices are continued by most of us, to name a few examples: books, sliced bread, automobiles and toilet paper. Simply because something existed before the 1960’s does not mean it must be relegated to the “dustbin of history,” as Trotsky might wish.)
My post was never about ad orientum . Y’all need to take a chill pill.
YFC, what did you mean by “pre-Vatican II orientation to the Liturgy”?
Okay, YFC, I do realize it is hard sometimes to explain everything on here in detail as words and space are limited, so I will put up a white flag.
Deacon Anderson, I got on line last night and looked at some of the Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgies, and by golly, they are not consecrating behind the iconostasis but have the iconostasis open but are facing “east” toward Christ over the altar. Times have changed.in one of the churches since I last attended their liturgy.
I assume you mean the ad-orientem posture? There is nothing in the Vatican II documents abolishing this, nor (and correct me if I am wrong) mandating the priest facing the people. So in what sense is your claim true?
“…ad-orientem posture? There is nothing in the Vatican II documents abolishing this….”
Well, not explicitly, but Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium *did* authorize bishop’s conferences to revise the Mass, and this had in fact been a goal of those who wanted to change the liturgy long before, during and of course immediately after V2.
Changing the Mass in this manner was a long-standing goal of Abp. Bugnini, who was appointed to do exactly this.
The Tridentine Mass is not required to be said with the priest facing away from the people.
The Mass of Pope Paul VI does not require the priest to face the people.
YFC, you are the one who brought up “a pre-Vatican II orientation to the liturgy.”
And, I won’t take your advice about taking a chill pill. I don’t do drugs. Do you?
(Maybe that’s why you can’t remember your original post about ad orientem.)
I was thinking the same thing myself and will not take a chill pill either as I was posting to Deacon Anderson. In most Eastern Catholic and other eastern Divine Liturgies, priests are not even seen as the consecration is done behind the iconostasis, similar to how worship was done before the Ark of the Covenant in the Israelite Temple. The only time I have seen an eastern Divine Liturgy done outside an iconostasis was in a Latin Rite church by a visiting priest. Facing the people comes from Protestantism.
where did I ever make an :original post: about ad orientum?
Do you understand the difference between a colloquialism and a literalism?
I’m just gonna guess not.
Que Sarah, Sarah.
“I wouldn’t read too much into this decision” Of course you wouldn’t because you favor the confusion of this Pope!
People are living longer healthier lives and it’s sad that we throw 75 year-olds to the junk heap. Chronological age does not determine one’s mental or physical capacity. I wish Rome and our culture would stop using “age” alone to determine competence.
There is more to life than holding a rank. Maybe part of the thinking is that you deserve a rest after decades of service? Or that you shouldn’t spend your life wedded to your position? Or that if you have a contribution to make, do it now? I don’t think retirement from a position of power means necessarily that you are on the decline. It might be the time to free one up for better things, or free up the position to give others a chance.
The priest that used to be at my parish (got moved) is a big Cardinal Sarah fan, also a big Vigano and Schneider fan. A friend told me he’s started saying every Mass with his back to the people. He’s not going to last long. He thinks the Mass is reserved to the cultic actions of men in the sanctuary, and he excludes the people by saying Mass turned away from them.
” He thinks the Mass is reserved to the cultic actions of men in the sanctuary, and he excludes the people by saying Mass turned away from them.” Anonymous, I must say your claim betrays an astonishing lack of understanding of the Mass. From the Catechism, 1566: “”It is in the Eucharistic cult or in the Eucharistic assembly of the faithful (synaxis) that they exercise in a supreme degree their sacred office; there, acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father.” From this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength.” Thus we see the priest’s role at Mass. An ad orientem posture is altogether appropriate for the priest to offer the sacrifice of Christ to the Father.
I’ve been to both ad orientem and versus populum. Versus populum is much better. If I had to sit through ad orientem all the time because that’s what the priest did, I’d probably find another parish.