November 24, 2014, Monday — Pope Chooses Sarah to Head Liturgy Congregation

Cardinal Sarah named Prefect for Congregation for Divine Worship

Pope Francis today named Cardinal Robert Sarah as Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Cardinal Sarah has been serving as President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Archbishop emeritus of Conakry (Guinea), was born on 15 June 1945 in Ourous, Guinea. After middle school, he was obliged to leave home in order to continue his studies at the minor seminary in Bingerville, Ivory Coast. Following Guinea’s independence in 1958, he returned home and completed his studies.

He was ordained priest on 20 July 1969 in Conakry. After his ordination, he earned a licentiate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a licentiate in Scripture at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem.

Upon completion of his studies, he was nominated rector of the minor seminary of Kindia, and served as parish priest in Bokè, Katace, Koundara and Ourous.

On 13 August 1979, he was appointed Archbishop of Conakry at the age of 34, making him the youngest bishop in the world and called “the baby bishop” by John Paul II. He was consecrated on 8 December 1979.

On 1 October 2001, he was appointed secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

On 7 October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 20 November 2010. His titular church is the Church of San Giovanni Bosco in Via Tuscolana (St. John Bosco in Via Tuscolana).

What Will Sarah Do?

Here are exceprts from a thoughtful piece on Cardinal Sarah by a friend and colleague, Andrea Tornielli, founder of VaticanInsider.com (link: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/sarah-37663/)

Francis has nominated the 69-year-old African cardinal as head of the Congregation that handles affairs relating to liturgical practices in the Catholic Church. He fills the position that was left vacant by Cañizares

By Andrea Tornielli

Everyone was on tenterhooks waiting to see who would take over from Spanish cardinal Antonio Cañizares as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The answer came at midday today: The man Francis has chosen to lead the dicastery that deals with liturgical affairs of the Church, is Cardinal Robert Sarah, currently President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, one of the Curia bodies that is eventually going to be merged as part of the Curia reform process…

After today’s nomination, the Vatican has an African cardinal leading a Vatican Congregation once again. Nigerian cardinal Francis Arrinze was Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments from 2002 to 2008, while Cardinal Bernardin Gantin from Benin headed the Congregation for Bishops from 1984 to 1998.

“The Lord has given me a gift I do not deserve and it is also a call to love the Lord even more on the occasion of the Consistory; it is also a call to love the Lord more and to die for Him, for the Gospel, for the salvation of the world… I would like to thank the Holy Father for deciding to grant me this honour. However, I also see this call as having come from God; it is a call to me to lead a more priestly and Christian life. I think today’s world needs God’s people, people who live their lives in such a way that they represent God’s physical presence in the world.”

Sarah is known for his deep spirituality: In nominating him head of the Church’s liturgical dicastery, Francis has chosen a pastor with 22 years of experience leading a diocese. In recent years the new Prefect for Worship attracted a great deal of media attention after he reminded the world that Africa was exploited by international powers and after a homily he pronounced in 2011 during an ordination ceremony for priests and deacons at the Communauté Saint-Martin in Candes. On this occasion, there was a big focus on liturgical formation and Sarah reminded pastors of their duty to faithfully announce Jesus’ teachings and urged them not to keep quiet about “serious” moral “deviations”

In an interview with Catholic news agency Zenit last 23 October, the newly-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship talked about the recently held Extraordinary Synod on the Family and said he did not see the question of the Eucharist for Catholics who divorce who remarry, as one of the “real important challenges that affect families today.” “The crisis of today’s family is in how the concept of marriage and family has changed” as a result of “the effects of a secular and relativistic society.” In another interview with Catholic New Agency published last month, Cardinal Sarah criticised international bodies for making financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations based on gender ideology.

The profile of Robert Sarah, a Curia member with a long experience serving as a pastor in Africa, is rather traditional. On 24 October, he had a meeting with priests taking part in the annual Roman pilgrimage of faithful that celebrate mass according to the Old Rite. Hia arrival as head of the dicastery for Worship is therefore unlikely to herald any innovations in the liturgical field.

Those who know Cardinal Sarah well, say he is leaving his current position as President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum – the Pope’s international emergency charity service with a certain trepidation. They also say that the African cardinal took some time to reflect on the nomination which is why it was not announced in a matter of days or weeks. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke was also informed some time ago – around the same time rumours started going round in the media – about his transferral from the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signatura to the Order of the Knights of Malta. In fact he was informed about this before the Synod, which would prove wrong those who speculated that his removal and new nomination were to do with the views he expressed during the recent Synod Assembly on the family.

The Anthropological Question

“You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because, in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.” —Walker Percy (1916-1990), American Catholic convert and writer, author of The Message in the Bottle and Lost in the Cosmos

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