Cardinal Sarah is new CDW prefect

Today’s Bollettino has the announcement – Cardinal Robert Sarah is the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

Here is Vatican Insider on the appointment.


  1. Catholic World News notes this:

    “Pope Francis reportedly offered the new post to Cardinal Sarah during a private audience with the African prelate on November 13. Vatican sources report that the cardinal was reluctant to leave his current position as the head of the Holy See’s charitable agency. It has been widely rumored, however, that Cor Unum will be folded into a new Vatican congregation, along with other offices including the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for Migrants.”

    So one way to view this appointment is that the Holy Father had a seasoned leader who, due to some reorganizing, needed a leadership post; and he had an open position for a leader at CDW; and so he matched the leader to the post that way. That reading of the tea leaves may support the notion that liturgy is not at the top of the agenda for this pope: there are other areas of church life that are more urgently in need of reform. So he has put in charge of liturgy a proven curial leader who mostly has steered clear of controversy, who is from the developing world, who like Francis has a significant track record running a diocese but who unlike Francis also has significant curial experience, who is roughly of the same age/generation as Francis, and who seems sympathetic to some of the high-level goals (mission, especially to the poor) that Francis has for the church.

    With the necessary caveat that Francis is highly unpredictable, it may be that Sarah’s brief for the next few years is, “make sure the trains run on time in this area of church life, so I can focus on other things.”

    Just one amateur view.

    1. @Jim Pauwels – comment #3:
      What you suggest seems very plausible to me, Jim. I also think that someone from outside the (entrenched) corners of the liturgy-sandbox is not the worst that can happen to the church at this point in time.

      1. @Teresa Berger – comment #4:
        That is a good point that you make regarding someone from outside the sandbox . This was an interesting choice in that he does not seem to have any kind of background in liturgy. But, I recall that Francis recently named an undersecretary who does have that background and is said to be a protege of Piero Marini. If this cardinal is as traditional as he appears to be from the written record and the images of him I have seen, his working with the Piero Marini protege might be an interesting working relationship. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

  2. It is not uncommon for the top two officers in a Vatican congregation to be split like this, with one having professional expertise and the other not. Sarah has a reputation as a low key person who prefers to work behind the scenes, which may help him mediate in “liturgy wars” if they come up.

  3. The number two in the congregation is Archbishop Roche; I am not sure if he will stay. One could still see Abp. Piero Marini go from Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses to Secretary at Culto divino.

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