Pray Tell as learned from multiple sources that a plenary session of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) has been called. It is reported that this meeting will take place in February, 2019.
Plenary sessions of the CDW are rather infrequent. The most recent such session was in March 13, 2009, when Benedict XVI delivered an address on eucharistic adoration. Prior to that, John Paul II spoke to a plenary session on translation and popular devotions in 2001, and in March, 2005 – less than a month before his death – John Paul sent a letter on the “ars celebrandi” (manner of celebrating) to be read out at a plenary session.
The CDW currently has 21 cardinals and 18 bishops from around the world in its membership. For a plenary session, all 39 of these members are called to Rome. The CDW currently has 23 consultors.
Since his election in March, 2013, Pope Francis has gradually but resolutely reshaped the roster of personnel in the Vatican liturgy offices. Already in September, 2013 he dismissed all the consultants of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff and appointed new members. This “sea change” was seen as a move away from the “Reform of the Reform” movement which was well-represented among the previous consultors. Francis has also replaced most of the members and consultors of the CDW, with new appointments made in October, 2016 and January, 2017.
The prefect of the CDW is Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea. He was appointed to a five-year term as prefect in November, 2014, and he finds himself presiding over a congregation that is increasingly out of sync with his own views. He has repeatedly been contradicted publicly by Pope Francis, for example when he called for all priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem (facing “east,” away from the congregation) in July, 2016, and when he claimed that Rome retained control over liturgical translations in October, 2017. The 2016 incident resulted in a statement from Holy See that the expression “reform of the reform” is best avoided.
Barring a transfer, Cardinal Sarah will still be prefect of the CDW in February, 2019.